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Haroon Yasin    

CEO of The Orenda Project; Queen's Young Leader Award-Winner

Haroon Yasin is a teacher and educational entrepreneur in Pakistan. But it took dropping out of college for for him to discover his passion for education.

As a child, Yasin never understood the importance of education. He continued to attend school to please his family. But, after just two months of engineering classes at university, he left a goodbye note for his roomate, packed up his bags and headed home.

When he returned to Pakistan, his family was so disappointed that they didn’t speak to him for months. This gave Yasin time to reflect on his life. During this period, Yasin happened to go to a slum village near his house where he met children who had experienced abuse. He felt compelled to help them, so he rented out a small building nearby and turned it into a daycare center to help keep local children off the streets. But on days Yasin couldn’t show up, the children had nowhere safe to go. Knowing the children needed more support, he turned the daycare center into a school.

While at school he realised that he needed to find a different approach to educating students if he truly wanted to make an impact in his country. Pakistan is currently home to the second highest number of out-of-school children in the world — and most are girls.With an increasing use of mobile phones, Yasin realised that technology presented a unique opportunity to impact many more children—and the idea to create an app called Taleemabad was born.

Taleemabad means “the city of education;” in ancient Urdu it also can mean “long live education.” Yasin’s organisation, Orenda, digitises Pakistan’s national curriculum so that students from rural areas who are unable to attend formal schools can still learn. The app features cartoons with friendly characters who go on adventures and solve problems, all while engaging students in essential lessons. Orenda hopes Taleemabad will reach one million children by the end of 2019. With his Gulmakai Network grant, Yasin is able to expand the curriculum to include secondary school targeted specifically at reaching girls. In the newly produced cartoons, the show’s main protagonist, Pinky, is a little older and faces different challenges that girls her age would also likely encounter, for example economic troubles.

Since becoming a Gulmakai Champion, Yasin has had the opportunity to showcase his product on the global stage, speaking at the World Bank Youth Summit in December 2018 and delivering a TEDxYouth talk in Qatar. In June, he was honoured with The Queen’s Young Leaders Award.


Meet the college drop-out educating Pakistan's poorest with a ...
I'm sat with Haroon Yasin in the swanky cocktail lounge of Salt Lake City's Grand America Hotel. A few hours ago, he got off stage at the prestigious Pluralsight ...

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