AN EDUCATIONAL PIONEER
“When we started Emkan Education in 2014, we were adamant about building an education start-up that brings together a variety of talents, not only educators,” says Emkan Education’s co-founder Basma Bushnak. Based in Jeddah, Riyadh and Dubai, Emkan Education works across Saudi Arabia and the UAE as an educational consultancy working with schools and educational institutions. It offers curriculum development, the latest teacher-training programmes and EdTech products tailored to the Saudi market. “We are an end-to-end education company,” says Bushnak.
Bushnak and her co-founders Mounira Jamjoom and Sara Zaini share expertise at master’s and PhD level that embraces areas such as educational strategy, educational reform, special education, and giftedness and creativity. They identified a need in Saudi Arabia for an educational consultancy that spanned both early years and university studies, educational quality assurance and teacher training. “Schools come to us because we understand how they work and can bring together such a broad range of experience,” says Bushnak. “It’s about collaboration and synergies; we rarely work alone.”
Working with programme designers, translators, editors and curriculum experts across the Middle East, Emkan Education can develop both new school curricula and training programmes for teachers and school leaders. “Creating a new curriculum is complex,” says Bushnak. “It involves integrating, for example, skills from the Cambridge curriculum, the International Baccalaureate or the American system with studies in Arabic language and culture, as required by Saudi Arabia’s ministry of education.”
Private schools commission Emkan to analyse the quality of their teaching practice. The firm is the first commercial training centre in Saudi Arabia licensed to deliver the Professional Development Qualification for teachers in partnership with the Cambridge International Examination board. Schools also engage Emkan to help them increase student numbers and plan for future expansion.
In the public education sector, Emkan works on education reform initiatives from concept to implementation, providing data and analysis. “If, say, we are approached to provide a survey of 300 teachers,” says Bushnak, “we can produce the data in three days as we have a wide professional network.”
Education technology is an important and growing market in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. With this in mind, Emkan launched its Madarisna app as a fully updated source of information. “It exists to raise awareness among parents of the school options they have and to allow them to rate schools objectively,” says Bushnak. In addition, working with Swedish educationalists Kunskapsskolan, Emkan created the Arab International Portal as a modern, accessible, tablet-based teaching programme that promotes independent learning.
Emkan’s Aanaab platform is a high-quality Arabic e-commerce site on which teachers can download the latest teaching materials, as well as create and sell their own teaching resources. “It is a way of encouraging teachers to share their expertise and experience and profit from it,” says Bushnak.
Emkan Education’s ambitions go beyond the support it gives individual schools and institutions. “We aim to make a positive, sustainable contribution to the education sector as a whole across Saudi Arabia, to improve student learning and to help teachers thrive,” says Bushnak. Whether providing direction in education strategy and schools development, building curriculum content, creating new education technology or training teachers and leaders, Emkan, says Bushnak, “is a melting pot of talents united by a passion for education.”