The Queen Rania Foundation for Education and Development (QRF) announced the launch of The Queen Rania Award for Education Entrepreneurship in the Arab World on Tuesday, a competition that recognizes the achievements and potential of home-grown education businesses in the Arab World that combine social impact with sustainable business models.
Founded by Her Majesty Queen Rania in 2013, QRF aims to reform school education in the Arab World through an impact focused approach to learning, and nurture a vibrant ecosystem of education entrepreneurs in order to enhance the process of education reform.
The Award is a grant totaling 200,000 USD, which will be given to the top three startups, allowing the winners to accelerate the growth plans of their businesses.

Through this award, QRF hopes to recognise and support innovative approaches making a real difference in the lives of learners, whether they are in kindergarten, school, or looking to learn new skills to prepare them for their next job. Applicants need to be based in the Arab World, and to primarily serve Arab learners.
Commenting on the goals of the competition, Her Majesty Queen Rania said “the Queen Rania Foundation supports quality education that is fit for the region’s ambitions, but we know we cannot do this alone. Many of the learning challenges we face require the energy and innovative thinking of entrepreneurs in order to prepare our students for a world that is increasingly shaped by smart technologies, and address the learning losses refugees are facing. I hope this competition can help identify and encourage the kind of innovative approaches we desperately need today.”

The Jack Ma Foundation (JMF) on May 7th 2018 announced a first stage grant of $3 million to support the the Queen Rania Foundation for Education and Development (QRF)

Highlighting the potential value the competition can bring, CEO of the Queen Rania Foundation, Bassem Saad, said: “the honest truth is that the Arab World is lagging behind other regions in making good use of socially-minded entrepreneurship – that is entrepreneurship that delivers social outcomes as well as a self-sustaining business model.”
“This is especially applicable in education and learning, where we seriously need to step-up the rate of reform. The world is changing faster than our classrooms, too many evidence-supported practices are not going into use, and too many students are not achieving enough to thrive and prosper”, Saad added.
“I hope this competition will bring to the forefront inspirational organisations that are doing things differently, not for novelty, but for impact. Through the application process, we look forward to coming across organisations that offer more than administrative efficiency – that really get at the heart of learning and teaching. Some may make great use of digital technology, others may follow a people-led approach, activating the community as a source of learning. The possibilities are great and exciting. I can’t wait to see what comes through”, he explained.
Applications will be accepted from September 10th 2018.

Interested startups and entrepreneurs can find further information on how to apply on
http://startups.qrf.org

For further information
Queen Rania Foundation
startups@qrf.org

Queen Rania met Syrian refugees who shared the difficulties they faced after fleeing to Jordan and starting their lives from scratch in Ramtha, in the north of the country

About the Queen Rania Foundation for Education and Development
“What the Arab world needs today is an educational revolution; we need a fundamental change that will fulfil every parent’s ambition to provide their child with a quality education.”

From its founding in 2013 by Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan, the Queen Rania Foundation (QRF) has aimed to be the premier resource on educational issues, in Jordan and around the Arab world, and to act as an incubator for new ideas and initiatives. In the firm belief that education is the foundation of economic, political and social development, QRF’s mandate has focused on identifying gaps and opportunities for developing new education programs, with the aim of influencing policy and creating educational change on the ground. QRF’s focus is perhaps best exemplified through the launch of Edraak.org an online education platform that localized open source technology developed by Harvard and MIT to reach over a million learners across the Arab world with free high quality educational material in less than 3 years.

Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah

The Middle East region is now the world’s largest producer and host of forced displacement. With the number of refugees and displaced people across the Middle East reaching almost 15 million, QRF believes it is imperative now more than ever to reinvent education from the ground up. Education must suit the needs of a shifting geopolitical landscape and a more mobile population – forced or otherwise.
Re-inventing School Education
Jordan and the Middle East region are at a critical point. Whereas others may choose to dwell on the challenges, Her Majesty has always maintained that “Pessimism doesn’t change the reality; it prolongs the status quo… Optimism and faith coupled with pragmatism change the reality”. It is imperative upon the people of Jordan and the region to embrace the current status quo as an opportunity to disrupt existing legacy systems of education, healthcare, and infrastructure. In that light, and in response to the incoming waves of refugee children in Jordan, QRF aims to position Jordan as the ideal setting to reinvent school education through an impact focused approach to learning.

Over the next 5 years, QRF will focus on a subset of public schools that are hosting both Jordanian and Syrian refugee students, combined with learners that are out of school for a number of factors. The Foundation will aim to reach 150,000 school-age students between 3 and 15 years of age with teacher-targeted localized innovative solutions that improve learner’s socio-emotional skills, numeracy, and literacy.

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump meet with King Abdullah II and Queen Rania of Jordan, Wednesday, April 5, 2017, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

To successfully disrupt the education sector, it will be critical to start at the bottom of the pyramid where resources are constrained and there is an imperative to do more with less. QRF will identify and channel funding to the most suitable innovations (technological or otherwise), localize them when necessary, and run rigorous assessments for impact. The defining aspects of QRF’s approach are the focus on rigorous evaluation methods to “solve for impact” and the mixed funding approach to ensure that both public and private sector thinking can be combined to solve these critical challenges. Successful deployments will then be scaled via public-private partnerships across the Jordanian public school system. QRF will widely share the results of all of its interventions to ensure that any lessons learned are accessible to educators and learners across the globe –especially those working within developing settings and forced migration challenges.

Within its target schools, QRF will center on 5 areas for its interventions. The focus areas have been identified through a rigorous research process using internal and external experts to ensure limited resources are directed to the issues with the highest potential for impact on learning and society. The five focus areas are: improving learning outcomes for boys, creating more structured classroom pedagogy, introducing regular formative assessment, creating strong school leadership and positive culture, and raising parental awareness and engagement in the early years of a child’s life. These focus areas will be buttressed by three crosscutting themes that have always been central to QRF’s operations and interventions: a clear understanding of the transformative power of technology (and its limitations), provision of a healthy socioemotional school climate, and finally ensuring selected interventions are readily scalable on national levels.

As a small country, with very little resources, and in a turbulent region, Jordan has always relied on the support of visionary friends and partners to help it develop into a model of stability and moderation across the region. In the same vein, QRF seeks the support of the international community and leaders in the public and private sector to help it transform Jordan into the ideal setting to catalyze education for the developing world and especially the Middle East region. As stability returns to war torn countries such as Yemen, Libya and Syria there will need to be clear models of education that can help them make up for lost time.