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UAE: Two innovative teens are helping peers 'learn on the go', gain financial literacy

(L-R) Ahad Khot and Rishi Shah
(L-R) Ahad Khot and Rishi Shah

Dubai - Their educational platforms are reaching hundreds of thousands of students around the world


Saman Haziq

Published: Sun 24 Oct 2021, 8:46 PM

Two Dubai students are aspiring to revolutionise education for their fellow peers through their innovative platforms.

Ahad Khot and Rishi Shah, from Dubai International Academy — Emirates Hill, aren't just empowering local teens — they've created a movement for hundreds of thousands of students around the world.

Khot, a Grade 12 student, launched a non-profit online platform last year that now has a reach in five countries, where clubs have been set up. The platform can also be accessed from anywhere online.

The motivation behind his project was the lack of life skills he observed among youth in his home country of India.

"I also saw some of my relatives suffer due to a lack of financial literacy and that motivated me to launch this online platform called 'The Financial Freedom Programme' as a potential yet unconventional solution," he said.

Khot has since managed to inspire 5,000 participants via 30 student leaders, event promoters and managers in 20 schools across the UAE, India, US and Saudi Arabia.

"Lack of practical, marketable skills is a colossal problem," he said. "Over 97 per cent of teens recognise money management and finances are important, yet few have learned effective life skills."

Since its founding, the Financial Freedom Program has become a global non-profit initiative, gaining legal privileges like a fiscally-sponsored 501(c)(3) status.

The online community has generated more than 200 hours of content in the form of videos, handbooks, and guides taught in branches around the globe. Through the platform’s events, competitions and content, students are able to learn important skills and compete on a global stage.

"In early 2020, we completed our first project where we organised a webinar with around 50 participants. Subsequently, I had set a ‘lofty’ goal of reaching 1000 participants by the next year. Today, 18 months later, we have successfully reached more than 5000 participants in the UAE, India, USA and many other countries by fostering partnerships with global organisations," Khot said.

One such operative event was a case analysis webinar organised in partnership with the Tiger Global Case Competition which reached two thousand students.

The next event, the Young Investors Competition, has raised over $10,000 in prizes to encourage students of all ages to participate and learn ‘investing’. The competition is backed by premier investment companies from around the globe and is sponsoring hundreds of applicants.

“I am humbled to have initiated this organisation, a big part of which is through the support that I received from my school and the school’s senior management team,” Khot said.

Learning on the go

Another dynamic Grade 12 student of the school is Shah, who has successfully launched a new and successful educational resource called MYPtalks.

Shah shares this passion with his peers, inspiring others to follow a career in the STEM field.

One of the major concerns his peers indicated to him was that studying sciences was too time-consuming, involving, and demanding.

To help students, Shah and his friend Jai brainstormed to find a feasible solution. They were inspired to create a conversational podcast that could simulate peer-to-peer learning, or in other words 'learning on the go'.

Shortly after selecting their format, they created their first pilot episode in Biology Unit 1 – Cells. The episode received positive feedback, further motivating them to continue expanding.

Jai created and organised notes, while Shah handled the technical aspects of the projects — creating the website and editing the audio clips, alongside contributing to the notes.

The initial objective of MYPTalks was to help students cope with their rigorous academic requirements.

Despite the name, the content and concepts covered successfully apply to other curricula as the podcasts cover the basic ideas of each subject. In fact, people from multiple schools in Dubai and India have used and are using the podcast.

The podcasts only continue to grow in popularity: during the pandemic the demand for a virtual mode for learning increased.

Through all, Shah and Jai always make sure that the team is passionate about the subjects being narrated. Additionally, to further assist students, they organized personalized tutoring sessions to elucidate key concepts after the podcasts.

These sessions, much like the podcast, have increased in popularity during the past year. Upon multiple requests from students, they designed economics as an additional subject within the list of podcasts recorded.

Currently, the podcast includes lessons on biology, chemistry, physics, and economics. The team highly recommends that everyone try the podcasts regardless of the curriculum they follow, as the content is applicable to all middle school students.


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Shah said: “I have always had a robust and motivated interest in science, which was nurtured through the extensive IB curriculum, and innovative style of teaching implemented in the school for a variety of different extra-curricular activities inside and outside school.

"I challenged himself outside School with AP exams and received the coveted AP Scholars award as a sophomore by giving the AP biology, chemistry and psychology exams."

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