Universities and institutes around the world are jumping on the online bandwagon. World-renowned institutes like Harvard and Stanford have started offering online courses while MIT even makes the effort to put all its courses online.
Unfortunately, the trend hasn’t really caught on yet for Pakistani institutes and universities. One Pakistani startup wants to change that.
UpSkill, Pakistan’s first MOOCs platform
Meet UpSkill, Pakistan’s 1st MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) platform. Basically, UpSkill wants to help students learn practical skills that would not only look good on their CVs but also help them if they start a business on their own.
UpSkill has been co-founded by Ali Abbas, the current CEO; Abdul Basit, the COO; and Zeeshan Jehangir, the CFO/CMO.
Abdul Basit and Ali Abbas were friends even before they founded UpSkill and Zeeshan was Ali’s roommate. An ACCA, Zeeshan was having trouble finding a job because of having no practical experience. This prompted some discussion and Abdul Basit and Ali came across the idea of UpSkill, also bringing in Zeeshan in the team a while later.
“Our goal is to make knowledge easily accessible through the medium of technology,” says Abdul Basit, COO at UpSkill while talking to ProPakistani. “We want to make learning fun through scientifically approved principles of learning.”
One big problem UpSkill faces is how to stand out from the crowd of hundreds of internationally-recognized MOOCs platforms. When asked about this, the COO — Abdul Basit— said they “have planned UpSkill by addressing their drawbacks and some additional features while focusing on Pakistani market.”
They did a couple of surveys; one from 15,000 students and another from 150 companies. This helped them find out learning patterns and also the skills that are lacking in fresh graduates and they have designed their courses accordingly.
They also found out that the dropout rate at MOOCs was pretty high and as a result, have added a gamification factor to address it.
The Language Barrier
Abdul Basit also says that the courses on international websites are not designed specifically for the Pakistani market. To make it even harder, almost all of them are in English.
The students, who are from Urdu-medium schools or from rural areas of Pakistan don’t have access to a proper English education. As a result, they have trouble learning and understand concepts in English.
UpSkill will provide all of its initial courses in Urdu
UpSkill will be initially offering courses in Urdu but will also offer the courses in English to capture the international market. Even the ones that are English will come with an Urdu transcription.
UpSkill has also partnered with several leading institutions, training organizations, and universities to offer short-certification-based courses offered online. Their website is currently under works as it gears up for its big launch on the 20th of September (tentatively).
At launch, it would offer just over half a dozen courses including:
- Public Speaking,
- Freelancing essentials,
- CHCE: Certified Hacking Countermeasure Expert,
- Video editing,
- and more.
They are promising to increase the number of courses to 50 by the end of this year.
The initial response to UpSkill has been pretty great, according to their COO Abdul Basit. The company claims that they already have received almost 15,000 registrations from students all over from Pakistan. They also state that they have over 300 eXceller ambassadors promoting their platform from different universities in the country.
How to Start Learning on UpSkill?
Once it is fully operational after the launch, you can start learning on UpSkill. All you will need to do is create an account and enroll in a course of your interest.
UpSkill also has plans to enter into a new market of online learning by offering online training to the corporate sector as well.
As of yet, UpSkill has raised an investment of 3 million rupees that is being used for establishing an office, hiring employees and marketing activities. It has also raised services of worth $27,000 from the Microsoft Bizspark— Microsoft’s program for helping budding young startups.
There is a huge lack any practical-learning institutes in Pakistan. UpSkill, if successful, can be hugely beneficial for the Pakistani market.
Note: Due to the impending Eid holidays, the launch date of UpSkill might be shifted a few days.