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Sharjah Private Education Authority (SPEA), and the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa), in partnership with Kalimat Group, have announced a newly-launched initiative called the Future Changemakers, aimed at utilizing remote learning to instill critical thinking skills, creativity, imagination, and the entrepreneurial mindset among stay-at-home students, amid Covid-19 concerns. The initiative takes a holistic approach at engaging students of all ages, from kindergarten till grade 12.

For grade 10 to grade 12, Sheraa has established the Sheraa Online School and Startup Sharjah to introduce students to the fundamentals of entrepreneurship. The online entrepreneurship school takes students through a 5-week journey of how to build a business, and the Startup Sharjah competition will see the top ideas compete for cash prizes. Launching across 35 private schools in Sharjah, the program’s end-goal is to help students come up with impactful ideas that solve problems under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, focusing on solutions most useful for a post-Covid-19 world.

In the Sheraa Online School program, over 200 students in grades 10 to 12 will participate and learn the fundamentals of building a business, through online workshops, quizzes, and live Q&A sessions. The 6-part series will consist of essential topics such as the basics of entrepreneurship, understanding your Business Model Canvas, discovering the value your idea offers, validating your solution through customer interviews, conducting competitor analysis and building your first pitch deck.

Upon completion of the workshops, a ‘Startup Sharjah’ online competition will be held, which is a month long intensive bootcamp designed to build a startup, from conception to prototype. The bootcamp will consist of weekly workshops and one-on-one mentorship sessions, covering topics such as finding their problem-solution fit, protecting their intellectual property, and launching their startup into the market. The students will also be connected to seasoned founders from the Sheraa Alumni community who will help in mentoring their venture creation process. Twenty shortlisted students will get the opportunity to pitch their tech-enabled business idea in front of an online judging panel after which the top 3 will be awarded a cash prize of 10,000 AED, 5,000 AED, and 2,500 AED respectively.

The Kalimat Group will be hosting the ‘Future Authors: Read. Dream. Create’ competition that enables young imaginative writers, from grade six to nine, to pen original stories about the Emirate of Sharjah, in both Arabic and English. The top three winners will receive AED 5000, AED 3000 and AED 1000 respectively.

Students in kindergarten through grade five will be participating in an online competition titled “Sharjah Treasures”, by recording short video clips showcasing their unique talents in the field of performing arts in both Arabic and English. First, second, and third place winners will be awarded cash prizes during the competition, which took place on April 23rd.

Najla Al Midfa, CEO of Sheraa, said, “Our partnership with the Sharjah Private Education Authority further enhances our aim to inspire a generation of changemakers by enabling the entrepreneurial mindset of critical thinking and creativity to be instilled from an early age. The Future Changemakers Initiative is structured to help students of all ages focus their passions, develop their talents, and build an impactful idea that solves critical problems within their communities and effects change for the society as a whole.”

Dr. Muhadditha Al Hashimi, Chairperson of SPEA, said: “The Future Changemakers initiative encourages students at home, to invest their expanded learning time towards other creative areas of interest, following the introduction of distance learning, implemented as part of the precautionary measures taken to curb the spread of coronavirus. We are working tirelessly to establish a paradigm for interacting with students and parents during this period in an effort to discover, invest and foster talent.”

“We have provided school administrations with sufficient time and space to implement this initiative and have notified parents as well. The initiative comprises of three competitions: Sheraa Online School, Sharjah Treasures and Future Authors: ‘Read. Dream. Create’ – each with its own set of guidelines and submission deadlines. ” she added.