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Jara provides a personal offline education device that teaches geographically custom curriculum to people in disaster affected regions.

Photo of Soraya Fouladi
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What problem does your innovation solve?

Access to education is lost in natural disaster and displacement, and even when efforts are made to remedy this, gender discrimination often prevails. The 2015 earthquake in Nepal left millions of people displaced and out of school. In parts of Western Nepal, women still practice Chhaupadi - during 7 days of menstruation, women are kept in seclusion because they are seen as impure, excluding them from attending school for 1 week each month.

Explain your innovation.

Our focus includes regions hit by natural disaster and people who are displaced, like refugees. We provide each individual with the Jara Unit - an offline education device that can be used anywhere, anytime, without requiring access to infrastructure. Jara empowers people to rebuild their communities and continue their education, despite their circumstance. The Jara Unit is a personal pocket-sized, durable tablet preloaded with geographically customized educational content and uses crank/solar power to charge to work independent of electrical grids, generators, and Internet. It has geographically customized educational content preloaded to each device, and locals distribute the Jara Unit to each person in need. Versions very similar to our product have been validated multiple times in various regions of the world, from the SPELL project in Micronesia, to the Stanford SMILE & Pocket School project in Palestine, India, Rwanda, Mexico. We now have a member of the SPELL team on Jara.

Who benefits?

2011, UNICEF found that 101 million children are not in school, let alone the large number of children in school who are not getting a proper education. In 2012 Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by a Taliban bullet in Pakistan for standing up for female education. Thousands of schools in Ukraine, Syria, India, to name a few, are destroyed in recent wars. UNICEF reported that 13 million children have been displaced from classrooms in the Middle East alone due to wars. As of 2016, according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, 65.3 million people fall under the definition of asylum-seekers, internally displaced, or refugees, the highest it has ever been in history with half of them being children. The loss and lack of access to the classroom itself is one of the main reasons people lose their chance at an education. When these people receive a Jara Unit they will have the opportunity to learn, despite their circumstances.

How is your innovation unique?

The Jara Unit is the first low-cost education device that uses basic technology and does not require any pre-existing infrastructure. It is wireless, waterproof, dust-proof, durable, and consistently secure. In additional, it uses non-conventional, crank and solar, energy sources to charge. By deploying durable but extremely basic technology with cheap, readily available components, Jara aims to decrease device theft and black market transactions. The Jara Unit provides easy access to geographically-designed gamified curriculum, based on user's asks: Traditional Curriculum: i.e. Nepal asked for: Math, Science, English, Nepali sourced from local and international educators, open-source resources, and existing educational databases. Practical Curriculum: i.e. How to build a plumbing system with the resources around you in Western Nepal

What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?

We are still working out how to convert our collaborators' educational content to our innovative flashcard process (which is the UI our curriculum is delivered). We are working to automate this system, which will require a collaboration with AI companies. Again, we do not need to recreate the wheel, we are stronger together.

Tell us more about you.

Jara is a non-profit organization. We believe we are stronger together and that we do not need to reinvent the wheel. Therefore we are planning on collaborating with as many organizations who are either: -Education Content Creators -NGO's existing in areas we plan to implement Jara -Education Ministries -Design Firms -CSP Programs (corporate social responsibility programs) From MIKTA, we are connected to Turkey, currently working to launch a pilot for the refugee population there.

What is the primary type of emergency setting where your innovation would operate?

  • Natural disaster
  • Prolonged displacement

Emergency Setting - Elaborate

In Nepal, the 2015 earthquake impacted districts between Kathmandu and Pokhara, leaving many regions without access to education, internet, or an electrical grid. We will implement initially with students in disaster-torn schools with their teacher as the distributor of the Jara Unit. We will expand to having impact-driven locals as the distributors. Furthermore for the women practicing Chhaupadi, the Jara Units will empower them to continue their education, even in seclusion.

Where will your innovation be implemented?

Pilot #1: Nepal Scale to: Australia, South Sudan, Turkey, Philippines To design for humanitarian relief effectively, you must assume nothing. We aim to preserve culture while bringing education and opportunities to these various regions. Therefore each region will require different curriculum and relationships need to be established in geographically and culturally relevant ways to each location.

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

In-country Networks

For Nepal we are at the early stage of working with networks like One Step Projects, Makesense, and Communitere. For Australia, we are at the early stages of working with North West communities such as the Aboriginal peoples of Pilbara, & northern territories where Yolngu live, because their history has been translated for 40k years, & lifetimes of languages are getting lost by the day. With Jara, the Aboriginal peoples of Australia can continue to preserve language & gain basic health info.

Sector Expertise

  • I've worked in a sector related to my innovation for more than a year.

Sector Expertise - Elaborate

Our innovation is implemented by our non-profit, Jara Worldwide. Collectively, our team has in depth experience creating and implementing solutions in education, disaster relief, refugee empowerment. We have backgrounds and expertise in humanitarian relief, research, product implementation, emerging markets, design, marketing/PR, volunteer coordination, business management.

Innovation Maturity

  • Existing Prototype or Pilot: I have tested a part of my solution with users and am iterating.

Organization Status

  • We are a registered non-profit, charity, NGO, or community-based organization.

Organization Location

San Francisco, Ca


How has your Idea changed based on feedback?

We conducted interviews in various regions of the disaster-affected parts of Nepal asking the following questions: We learned that a lot of people in situations without access to education are also wanting access to food too. We are starting discussions with locals to see how viable it is to grow food in these regions & are looking into partners who can create curricula around this. One interview - Translation - What do you want? Food and Books

Who will implement this Idea?

We have a core team full-time in addition to volunteers and Jara Ambassadors who will make Jara a reality. Jara Ambassadors are full-time paid, well respected locals we will hire who have demonstrated action towards bringing opportunity to their communities in the regions we are targeting. Our onsite Jara Ambassadors will teach users how to use the Jara Unit and show why it is beneficial, and teach users how to fix the Jara Units when broken. Furthermore, we will facilitate the practical curriculums and encourage continuous use of the Jara Unit.

What challenges do your end-users face? (1) What is the biggest challenge that your end-users face on a day-to-day, individual level? (2) What is the biggest systems-level challenge that affects your end-users?

1) Lack of access to a classroom with a good student to teacher ratio and access to facilities associated with the classrooms like plumbing systems or clean water systems 2) Emergency relief resources going to those with access to electrical grids and to those with more personal assets

How is your organization considering sustainable growth in order to continue making an impact over time?

Product Sales: The Jara Unit will cost $3.50 to manufacture and assemble. We will sell them at $10-$15 price points to governments, education ministries, and NGOs. SaaS (Software as a Service) Model: If a customer (a government, education ministry, or NGO) would like more educational content added to their region’s Jara Units, we will have the customer subscribe to a SaaS model for access to more of our internationally curated educational flashcard platform. HaaS (Hardware as a Service) Model: If a customer wants more Jara Units after the launch of 1000+, we will charge a premium.

Tell us about your vision for this project: (1) share one sentence about the impact that you would like to see from this project in five years and (2) what is the biggest question/hurdle you need to address to get there?

IMPACT: By 2022 we would like Jara to be implemented in Nepal, South Sudan, Turkey, Australia, Philippines, with Jara impacting over 3 million people especially women, through the Jara Unit and Jara associated programs. QUESTION: How do we create an effective and ethical distribution channel, from ethical factory to the benefactor’s hands, for all of these regions in order to bring over 3 million sustainable Jara Units to all of the users?

How do you currently measure (or plan to measure) outcomes for this project?

The Jara Unit contains a chip so we can follow each user’s progress at scale. Each student has a username which enables us to identify and quantify data - from # of times a flashcard/topic is studied to the # of times a question on a quiz is repeated until success. Our practical curriculum contains physical structures being built, so the Jara Ambassadors will photograph progress each week and the Jara website will contain a map of what has been built each week for the public to see.

What is the timeline for your project Idea? What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years?

Research & Development for the Jara Unit's DFM (Design for Manufacturability). (2-3 months) Ethnographic Research (1-3 months), validation, pre-pilot (1 month), pilot (3 months), launch - for each region. Create partnerships with education content creators for each region (2-3 months) Translate to flashcard format (1-2 months) Key steps include: -Creating regional partnerships -Design/implement ethnographic research -Hire+Train Jara Ambassadors -Lock down ethical manufacturer

My organization's operational budget for 2016 was:

  • We didn't have an operating budget

How many of your team’s paid, full-time staff are currently based in the location where the beneficiaries of your proposed Idea live?

  • Under 5 paid, full-time staff

Is your organization registered in the country that you intend to implement your Idea in?

  • We are a registered entity, but not in the country in which we plan to implement our Idea.

How long have you and your colleagues been working on this Idea together?

  • Between 6 months and 1 year

What do you need the most support with for your innovation?

  • Business Development / Partnerships Support
  • Understanding User and/or Community
  • Product Design
  • Other Technical Expertise


Join the conversation:

Photo of Dave Hughes

Hi Soraya, this is a great idea! My name is David Hughes and I am the Project Director for the Bendigo Inventor Awards.

Now in our 7th year, the Bendigo Inventor awards have as our focus inventions that address needs in the Emergency Services and Disaster Management space, and we offer a AUD$10,000 prize for the winning entry. The Bendigo Inventor Awards has also created an environment for inventors to obtain support for their ideas by bringing together a coalition of partners with the knowledge, skills and networks to accelerate the progression of ideas from concept through to commercialisation. Major Program Partners include Engineers Australia who are providing technical feedback, KPMG who are offering advice on commercial viability and the path to commercialisation and Red Cross, who are providing their perspective on the relevance of many inventions to disaster relief efforts. Our judging panel also contains representatives from Emergency Management Victoria, who are able to provide similar feedback on the applicability of inventions to the emergency services.

I believe your idea would be a fantastic entry into the awards. Applying is easy and can be done through our website Simply select the category that your invention applies to – ‘Concept’ or ‘Product and Prototype’, and answer some questions about your invention. All judges are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement, so your idea is protected. Entries close 5pm Friday 29th September 2017 AEST.

I very much look forward to seeing your invention go on to great success, and hope we are able to assist you in enabling that to happen. If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to get in touch via my email at

David Hughes
Project Director
Bendigo Inventor Awards

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