MetaMindz is on the front of offering BLENDED Learning in UAE. In an interview with The Knowledge Review, Irum Farhat Farooq, the Co-Founder of this organization sheds light on how this educational approach is reforming the educational fraternity. Above all, she talks about ‘Women Empowerment’ and what it means to be a women leader in charge of bringing change.
- How do you define the word “Empowerment”? And, to you, what does “Women Empowerment” stand for? Please tell us how you are contributing to that.
Thank you for this honor and for putting forth this very eminent question. I feel that ‘Women Empowerment’ is a very misunderstood term in today’s world. As per my understanding, it doesn’t necessarily mean rebellion from traditions and clash with the opposite gender. On the contrary, it means that men and women co-exist as partners and mutual supporters, leading the world to a better future.
For me personally ‘Women Empowerment’ means that a human being, who happens to be a woman, has the opportunity and ability to make choices and decisions for her life, personal or professional, without any person, system or tradition hindering or doubting her ability to believe in herself.
My advice to the younger folks is that both men and women need to respect each other and value each other’s contributions. Life is not a race between the genders, it’s about teamwork!
If we can help girls develop a sense of self-respect and belief in themselves and the will to grow and develop intellectually and spiritually, we will have empowered them in the true sense of the word.
- Kindly brief us about you and your journey since the beginning of your career.
My life journey has been exciting thus far, with highs and lows, as expected from any worthwhile endeavor! In my professional journey, from being an educator to an entrepreneur, the core of my efforts has always been to add value to the society and humanity. With Education as my calling, working with children, young adults and fellow educators, this aspiration is met quite naturally and effortlessly.
How do you describe yourself in one-word or one-sentence?
Persistence meets optimism! Both traits can be a strength and a weakness.
- Tell us about your passions, aims, and goals.
When passion gives birth to a goal, the aims become rather clear. I’ve always been passionate about seeking knowledge to facilitate individuals to discover themselves and enhance personal growth. A cause very close to my heart is to facilitate equal opportunities for all in education. Every child has the right to learn and learn the way they want irrespective of their social or intellectual disposition. It is not necessary to follow the one-size-fits-all approach. By embracing change in the education landscape, we can ensure that every child gets the opportunity to gain knowledge and benefit from it.
So in a nutshell, my goal is to make academic learning a meaningful, rewarding and egalitarian experience for all.
- What acts as your motivational tool? Or, who is your role model, who inspires and motivates you?
Without sounding clichéd as an educator, my motivation literally comes from the children I see every day and my desire to offer the best to these brilliant young minds, including my own children.
My role model however would have to be my father. He taught me the value of hard work and perseverance and gave me the wonderful gift of faith and belief in my dreams and aspirations. My mother is also an inspiration for her giving nature, philanthropic mindset and unshakable faith.
- Share any of your major achievements and your company’s achievements under your leadership.
I co-founded MetaMindz in 2012 with the ambition to bring a ‘learning-revolution for children’ in the Middle East and South Asia. MetaMindz founders, experienced educators and technology experts, equipped with diverse education and training carried out extensive research to find the most cutting-edge methods to offer personalized learning to children that is relevant, affordable and meaningful.
The common belief that the objective of learning must go beyond grade attainment became the core of our endeavor. We aspired to offer learning that catered to 21st century needs and ensured children become motivated learners forever. As a result MetaMindz became the pioneer of blended learning in the region and the first learning center that was approached by a leading Education company to offer enrichment programs in their schools. In 2014, MetaMindz partnered with Dubai government to offer an innovative summer camp at Dubai libraries followed by more exciting summer camps in partnership with renowned organizations in UAE, in the following years.
The program adopted by MetaMindz became a choice after much research and deliberation as it met all the needs of the 21st century classroom. From powerful, data-driven diagnostics to understand individual needs, to fully integrate personalized learning paths, i-Ready by Curriculum Associates gave us all the solutions we were seeking.
As the effectiveness of the program was showcased quite efficiently at MetaMindz, by virtue of being the managing partner of the company, I was offered to become a representative of Curriculum Associates in the Middle East and Pakistan. It is indeed a great honor to be representing a highly acclaimed and well-established organization and be instrumental in introducing their programs to schools, parents and children who are ready for the 21st century learning experience.
- What are the most important lessons you’ve learned throughout and would like to share?
The appreciation of people in your life, in a personal and professional capacity, is very important. It always takes a team to make a dream a reality. Appreciating diversity of thought, respecting differences and keeping an open mind is key to success in today’s world.
- Brief us about the industry scenario from your perspective and women’s participation and involvement in a growing business sector.
A dictum I work by and encourage teachers and parents of my students to believe in is to not confine our children to our own learning, for they were born in another time.
Education is the right industry for you if compassion and a desire to enrich are at the core of all your actions. I tell all educators, women and men alike, to not be afraid of change and to incorporate latest methods to improve learning outcomes of their students. Leverage off the great resources out there and customize them to your needs. Keep an open mind and encourage your thirst for knowledge.
- In your opinion, how have women contributed in the development of the education sector in UAE ?
UAE has some very impressive statistics when it comes to women participation in Education. 100 percent of nursery school teachers, 55 percent of primary schoolteachers and 65 percent of intermediate and secondary schoolteachers are women. UAE women comprise over 40 percent of all employees in education.
( Ministry of State for Federal National Council Affairs ).
This demonstrates the UAE leadership’s vision of empowering and entrusting women with the most critical role in nation building; education and development of the new generation.
- What would you advise to aspiring woman leaders?
Whatever you endeavor to do, do it with full commitment and passion. Seek feedback for improvement but not universal approval. Your people are your biggest asset. Keep the bar raised and help them discover their potential. And lastly, a wonderful quote from Michelle Obama “Success isn’t about how much money you make; it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.”