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Project Sweeps

Lairn aims to provide quality life-skills education and teacher training to children, youth and teachers through radio in areas of isolation

Photo of Anirudh Thimmaiah
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What problem does your innovation solve?

Lairn aims to tackle the problem of inaccessibility to quality education and skills training in 'areas of isolation' suffering either from conflict, or geography, or disaster, or systemic neglect, or all of them through a very affordable and accessible technology: the radio, contributing to the objectives of UN SDG – 4, Quality Education for all.

Explain your innovation.

The innovation is, it brings business and research together on a sustainable, accessible and affordable platform- the radio, to deliver quality life-skills education in areas of isolation. Our key activity is to formulate a comprehensive life-skills curriculum based on research provided by the UN that can be delivered through radio broadcast and accessories. Secondly, to establish license and partnership agreements with content providers both local and global (e.g. academia,experts, TED talks, podcasts). Thirdly, building long term collaborations and working partnerships with local radio stations to make content accessible. Our platform will offer a low-cost, highly accessible 'Social Marketplace' (SocKet) where research and industry with common interests will connect together for content creation and development bringing benefits to them, for marketing and branding their products and services. Content developers, distributors and businesses will benefit through what is called Brand Incubation (BI) where brands get an increased opportunity to flourish and establish by increasing their market and social presence tapping into areas of isolation, thereby increasing their market share. Our novel 'Socially Committed Brand Integration' (SCBI) concept benefits businesses by providing an increased market access through Lairn and its local networks, tapping into isolated areas unexplored before. Platform, advertisement and our networks will generate revenues similar to Facebook model

Who benefits?

Children aged 5-18 years old, youth and their families in areas of isolation suffering from conflict, harsh geography and struck by frequent disasters. Also, we will be training and developing courses for teachers and communities through these programs with effective syllabus formation and curriculum development along the SDG4 objectives. We will be implementing it first in Kathmandu, Nepal partnering with local radio stations, government schools and communities. We are expecting to reach close to one million children and teachers tentatively by the middle of 2020 in Nepal along with our partners and further scale up and expand into other regions in South Asia, Africa and South America year on year. Our progress will be measured by the numbers we impact and the outreach we enjoy with them through our program. We will be conducting our half yearly impact evaluations through our internally designed impact evaluation process involving all the stakeholders and end-users.

How is your innovation unique?

What is unique about our innovation is it is simple, accessible and affordable. It is a brownfield investment depending upon low-cost existing radio infrastructure making it less-capital intensive and low on gestation which makes it a ‘ready-to-deliver and deploy' model. This model can be easily replicated across the world, even in places without any Internet infrastructure and has the ability to operate in zones affected by wars, disasters and other emergencies at all times. Our education content is more focused on life-skills development for children and training for teachers and communities in line with the SDG 4 objectives specifically aimed at peace, sustainability, grassroots empowerment and global citizenship which is unique in its nature of formulation and execution which becomes necessary in this globalized world. This is completely driven by youth and for the youth which makes us different from other initiatives like 'School of the Air' run by the Australian government.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?

We have already conducted our pilot in Kathmandu, Nepal and we have received an excellent response from the local communities. We are in the process of formally establishing it and expand to all the regions in Nepal. We are working out on building networks with institutions like the UN, national and local organizations, governments, radio stations since we need licenses and required bandwidth. The laws may vary from country to country, making our process quite tedious.

Tell us more about you.

Lairn is a social enterprise of 35 people from 18 different countries coming together to tackle the UN SDG 4:Quality Education. We are supported by a global charitable organization committed to the UN SDGs, World Merit. In Nepal we have partnered with local radio stations, village communities, government schools and NGOs SAATH and AIESEC Nepal. Our core team consists of Ms. Asmita Dhital(Director-Operations), Ms.Marina Melero (Co-Director) and Mr.Anirudh from India (Research and Fundraising)

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

  • Natural disaster
  • Armed conflict
  • Prolonged displacement
  • Extreme drought
  • Other (please specify in next question)

Emergency Setting - Elaborate

Our initiative will first be implemented in Nepal, where access to quality education and skill development suffers because of the intensity of the problem affected by frequent conflict, harsh geography, earthquakes and other natural disasters and political instability which contribute to sustained systemic neglect which can be inter-generational.Since our innovation depends on low cost radio network , it will be able to operate even in areas where there is no access to Internet infrastructure

Where will your innovation be implemented?

Our initiative will first be implemented in Nepal because as an organization, we love taking the hardest challenges and impacting the most affected by them. We believe that we will make the biggest impact here taking on multiple inter-connected challenges by enabling access to quality education to several young ambitions and aspirations in the remotest areas which suffer from social, economic, political and geographical alienation. Other regions: South Asia, regions in Africa and South America

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for less than one year.

In-country Networks

We are supported by a global charitable organization working on the UN SDGs called World Merit. We were also invited to pitch our idea at the UN HQ receiving wide international acclaim for the pitch. We have partnered with Enactus, Singapore Foundation, collaborated with BBC, University College London and BOMA Investments. In Nepal, we have initiated partnerships with local radio stations, government schools, AIESEC Nepal, local community groups and a local NGO called SAATH.

Sector Expertise

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

Sector Expertise - Elaborate

We have successfully created an operational structure and business model for our on-air curriculum (UNESCO as reference) with 2 full show samples,organised London Education Hackathon for close to 200 people,selected for Singapore Foundation's Youth Social Entrepreneurship Incubator 2016, *Ship Startup Fest 2016 top 50 finalists, Hack for 2030 in Boston. We conducted our first pilot, 'Project Sweeps' in Kathmandu, Nepal partnering with local radio stations, government schools and communities.

Innovation Maturity

  • Roll-out/Ready to Scale: I have completed a pilot and am ready or in the process of expanding.

Organization Status

  • We are a registered for-profit company (including social enterprises).

Organization Location

London, the UK


website: facebook: twitter: @lairn_ ‏

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?

By 2020, we aim to affect and impact 100,000 children in Nepal by building knowledge communities around them with teachers, parents and the community through our life-skills radio program. How do we build a community-centric business model which is not just sustainable, but one which allows us to take our idea and vision to the heart of the community?

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

Our outcomes will be measured by the number of children we reach and impact in terms of access to quality education, academic learning and skills development through our program.

My organization's operational budget for 2016 was:

  • Under $50,000 USD

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

  • No 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
  • Business Model Support

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Rasal Lia

Yes, radio could be an effective instrument for the purpose. Is it possible to launch a separate radio channel for 8-10 hours/day, seven days/a week to broadcast complete lessons for all children from one to twelve class?

Thank you.