Georgetown University in Qatar Alumnus Receives Leadership Award From Queen
Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) alumnus Haroon Yasin (SFS ‘15) was recently honored by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for his work to educate underprivileged children. Yasin was one of the winners of the 2018 Queen’s Young Leaders Awards, a global program that recognizes and celebrates young people who are using their skills to impact their communities.
Yasin is the co-founder of Orenda, an educational organization that uses cartoons and digital streaming technology to bring school curriculums to children in Pakistan who are unable to attend formal classes, or who are at risk of dropping out of school. Using a mobile app with cartoon characters living in ‘Taleemabad’ (Urdu for ‘Education City’) and complementary work books, Yasin and his co-founder, fellow GU-Q alumnus Ahwaz Akhtar (SFS ’16), are making learning fun and engaging for children across the country.
During his visit to England, Yasin and his fellow award winners met with notable leaders and completed a custom-designed course at Cambridge University, before receiving their awards from the queen. The program included visits to a number of organizations including the BBC, and meetings with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May and former Prime Minister Sir John Major to gain an understanding of how change is brought about and led by high level actors.
“The ceremony itself came on the end of a completely packed week, where we had the chance to delve deeper into our work with dedicated mentors at Cambridge University,” said Yasin. “We discussed ideas on how to build movements and advocacy around improving the access and quality of education in our contexts.”
The GU-Q alumnus hopes the knowledge gained from the experience will enable him to scale up Orenda’s work, as the organization continues to expand the reach of their learning app. The app now has over 15,000 users, with children spending an average of eight minutes per session learning critical numeracy and literacy skills. Taleemabad is also the first mass market app in Pakistan that contains curriculum-led learning in Urdu (the national language), which is also making it popular among expatriate Pakistanis, such as those in Qatar.
“We are now seeking investment to help us scale the app to a larger number of users,” explained Yasin. “Our goal now is to have reached 1 million children by the end of 2021, and our work has now also received the backing of Malala Yousufzai, the noble laureate and education activist from Pakistan.”
Yasin was one of three winners from Pakistan, and one of 60 young people selected from thousands of applicants from across the world for the 2018 Queen’s Young Leaders Awards. Shortlisted applicants were selected by a panel made up of young people from across the Commonwealth, and the finalists were chosen by members from The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, Comic Relief, and The Royal Commonwealth Society.
Georgetown University in Qatar
Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) is an additional location of Georgetown University, based in Education City in Doha. The University offers a four year undergraduate program in international affairs leading to the Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service (BSFS) degree. Students have the opportunity to select one of four majors, a minor, and one of three certificates.
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