In 2015, Ayman Sadiq
, the proud recipient of the Queen's Young Leaders Award 2018, launched online educational platform 10minuteschool.com (10MS). Today, this very same platform is the largest e-learning site helping over 200,000 students across the nation. In an effort to learn more about what this service has to offer, the Dhaka Tribune’s Nawaz Farhin
speaks to the founder of the platform
What is 10MS all about?
10MS is an online educational platform that aims to deliver quality academic and skill development content to Bangladeshi students and beyond, free of cost from anywhere in the world. My objective with 10MS is to ensure that no student is deprived of the chance of learning anything because of financial or geographic constraints.
Please tell us what led you to launch this start-up?
Back when I was a student myself, I used to teach students in batches and also coach them online. I realized if I properly made use of the internet, I could deliver educational services with ease and efficiently. Inspired by this idea, Khan Academy’s teaching models and some YouTube tutorial channels, I started building a platform where people could get much needed support for the local courses in our country.
Earlier on, whenever I shared my idea with people, they always encouraged me. I was a 2nd-year student back then, with a bag full of dreams, lessons learnt from failures and an uninhibited drive move forward. There are many online resources and websites but what I wanted was to create a platform that would cater to Bangladeshi students so that this website would not only support them in our national exams and courses, but would assist them for all local and international tests as well.
How did you manage funds for your start-up? What motivated you?
One of the major challenges we faced when we started was suitable sponsors to fund the operational activities of 10MS. Our collaboration with Robi Axiata Ltd gave us a stable funding programme that we desperately needed to keep 10MS going. Furthermore, the ICT Division of Bangladesh has provided us with an office space and a studio. This has brought forth a massive improvement in our content quality which we are improving every day.
At the beginning of 2017, we signed a tripartite MoU to provide content to 2,001 Sheikh Russel Digital Laboratories. With support of Robi and ICT Division, we have already reached out to 2,001 laboratories in the country. We know we will soon be reaching out to all the rural areas of Bangladesh too.
What were some of the barriers you faced with 10MS?
Initially, we faced many challenges. For instance, we went to a web development firm for creating our website which ended up delivering nothing after six months. I figured since I was only a student back then, nobody took my work seriously, and I lost a lot of money in the process.
Abyad Raied, our Chief Technology Officer (CTO) decided to take matters into his own hands and learnt how to develop a website within a matter of a few months. He made the preliminary version of our site.
Finding a suitable sponsor to fund operational activities of 10MS was another challenge we had to overcome. Our collaboration with Robi Axiata Ltd fixed that problem. They gave us a stable funding programme which we desperately needed to keep 10MS going.
Making sure our content is accessible to large number of people both in Bangladesh and overseas, is a challenge which we are continuously working to improve. So far, we have been very lucky thanks to the ICT Ministry. For it is their support, that has allowed us to broadcast lessons to 2,001 training laboratories across the country. At present, our services are being used in 64 districts and we have also organising proper workshops to train the teachers.
We are also planning to take these online classes to 30,000+ multimedia classrooms in collaboration with a2i and UNDP, and simultaneously working to make these numbers even larger.
Is 10 Minute School is a commercial entity or a social initiative?
10 Minute School does not charge anything from its students. It is the largest free education platform in Bangladesh. All our content is available to anyone, anywhere, completely free of cost. We get our operational budget from Robi Axiata Limited.
What are the achievements?
Recently, 10MS has won APICTA awards, which is like the OSCARS in the ICT world. We also won the GSMA Glomo award for Best Mobile Innovation for Education and Learning in the Connected Life Awards category at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2017. Our additional accolades include BRAC Manthan Award, YSSE Impactful Project of the Year award, Swiss Embassy Award for Social Impact, DYDF Award for being a Youth Icon and Slush Regional Winner award. Our international accolades include Special Mention in the GIST Tech-I at Silicon Valley.
How do you feel about being selected for Queen's Young Leaders 2018 Award?
The Queen’s Young Leader award is a massive platform for every winner to learn, share and grow. This platform, with its immense network and its unparalleled mentoring will not only help me in realizing my full potential, but it will also bring forward a greater responsibility for me to fulfil. This award has inspired me to further continue working towards improving our content not only for academics but also professionals and skill development training so that whoever they may be, can be equipped as a 21st century learner with any skill that is required for them to be on top of the game.
Where do you see your initiative in the next five years?
We want to continue working towards improving our content to truly make 10 Minute School the one stop solution for all academics and professionals. We want to connect the 170,000 schools of Bangladesh to 10MS and bring the 42.7 million students of Bangladesh under the 10MS umbrella, truly making it the largest educational platform of the country in all the senses possible.
I believe the future of education is digital. We plan on digitizing education to such an extent that anyone can not only attend any class they want from the comforts of their home, but also say goodbye to on having to carry heavy fat books and organise papers and lecture sheets.
Every topic that a syllabus covers will be extensively laid out in our smart books which students will find convenient to understand, analyse and interpret poems, literary texts, essays and virtually everything to currently do using papers and books. Videos will cover all academic courses imaginable while every student can find skill development courses and extracurricular materials at his fingertips. That’s the future.