Dheere Bolo is one of the five startups that made it to Invest2Innovate’s (i2i) latest class for 2014-2015. In addition to the networking potential that this opportunity represents for Nadine Murtaza (founder of Dheere Bolo), i2i also offers training on leadership development, customer development & acquisition, branding and marketing, financial modeling and valuations.
According to i2i’s website: “Dheere Bholo aims to be an activist publishing house that provides high-quality and innovative content to improve Pakistani education.” It is an initiative housed within NJ’s House, a high quality IB-PYP (International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme) Candidate School for early education in Islamabad.
About NJ’s House
In terms of understanding where Dheere Bolo is coming from, it is important to look at the school it is housed in. NJ’s House is a primary school in Islamabad focused on non-traditional educational methods. It is a subsidiary of the HeadStart School, one of the top schools for kids all ages in Islamabad. Dheere Bolo is also connected to an earlier initiative called ‘Paper Microphone’ – a storytelling cafe also located in Islamabad.
IB-PYP Candidate School
More context on the kind of education that NJ’s House is providing, it is key to understand what being an IB-PYP Candidate School means. It means that NJ’s House is following the curriculum for primary years’ education (ages 3-12) set by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) based in Switzerland. This association translates into a higher quality of education than local curriculums offer, and prepare students for the IB curriculum going up till High School, which represents a comprehensive curriculum and training program that is highly sought after by higher education institutes around the world.
According to the IBO Website, the IB-PYP program is unique because: “(it) focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside. It is defined by six transdisciplinary themes of global significance, explored using knowledge and skills derived from six subject areas, with a powerful emphasis on inquiry-based learning.”
About Dheere Bolo
In the context of all the innovative pedagogy that NJ’s House is involved in, Dheere Bolo is a project to create educational content that can be distributed to improve education in the country. From the website and social media pages, the content seems to include story-writing projects, curriculum, podcasts, other audio teaching aids and so on.
The theme of the initiative is set around storytelling. It would be interesting to see how the team develops products based on this theme, who are the customers for these products, who funds them and how they are received in the market. All of these questions would be better answered when Dheere Bolo progresses from idea to execution and meets their goals. The project seems to be going either in the direction of public service delivery if the content is shared online for everyone or super-exclusive material only sold to niche schools in posh areas around the country.
The studio at NJ’s House which seems to be involved with content creation is supported by partners including Kuch Khaas, Institute of Preservation of Art and Culture (IPAC) and HeadStart School.
The only content available for viewing from NJ’s House were their podcasts. I wanted to check them out to assess the quality and content. The podcasts exceeded my expectation for the production value that would have been invested in the medium. A mix of songs and voice recordings, each podcast is impressively laid out to include children’s voices and opinions as well as the overview by the presenters.
There are only three podcasts available (one each for the months of March-May 2014) on the website. This might be a sample of their larger production, or just an initial attempt at the medium. In either case, these represent a great potential in terms of becoming a source of education for kids around the country/world.