Non Formal education – A new horizon!

Non formal education is emerging as fertile business ground, as more Indian parents seek facilities to develop learning and vocational skills in their wards, beyond what is being offered by academia-oriented schooling system. This is another new development that underlines the fact: India is Growing!

There are many private players/ companies trying to fill the gap between academics and all round development in today’s children. Some of them are called: Leapstart, Edusports, HeyMath, Smartlinx, Yardstick.co.in etc. This sector, which includes pre-schools, vocational skill development and coaching is poised to grow; catering to a market value of $10 billion, nearly one-tenth of $ 85 billion education industry in India. Most of these new business start-ups have originated in India, with global support – particularly from the Western world.

Education industry is bound to grow by leaps and bounds in India, keeping in mind the country’s youth population that is largest in the world. There is a wide gap that is void since they do not come under regular school curriculum syllabus. These activities form as co-curricular activities: pre-schools, dance schools, physical education, Math tutorials, Science labs, online education and VOIP services etc. The Yuppy and upwardly mobile parents (mainly from – DISK family – Double Income Single Kid) want that their child is not only academically equipped; they should excel in sports, develop teamwork skills and also leadership abilities! But, these pre-schools double as Creche for working parents to leave their kids for day care! Now, this is really asking too much from 3 to 12 year old children, correct??

Edusports, with already 70 schools outsourcing their sports activities; it plans to reach 1000 schools by the year 2015 totalling Rs 100 crores in revenue/ year. This is possible; because Edusports is not catering to only elite schools but it caters to tier 2 and tier 3 cities too with their lowest fee of Rs 250 per student per month.

HeyMath is started by NRI professionals’ couple, who have quit their well paying bank jobs in London to settle in india – and are providing a course in collaboration with the University of Cambridge, to help dispel the fear of Math, and improve student motivation.

Yardstick.co.in uses locally available material, including clay to fashion 3-D objects/ models to explain scientific concepts likes Newton’s laws of motion. The organisation has 40 employees on its payroll and plans to achieve topline growth of Rs 1.5 crore by end of 2010-11, though the set up was started only in 2008. Established educational Institutions like NIIT have also jumped in; to enter ‘experimental learning’ through Mobile Science Labs for schools in collaboration with US-based Fourier Systems.

Hyderabad based Smartlinx, offers on line educational and voice-over-internet telephony (VOIP) services to wide student base from kindergarten to 12th standard students. On-line tutorials provide the convenience of time and space to large section of students as well as teachers. Smartlinx has tied up with telecom major BSNL and plans to enrol 50000 teachers and 200000 students on-line, chasing a yearly revenue target of $100 million by the year 2015.

A new breed of entrepreneurs from the corporate sector – have ventured to make these activities possible and start educational companies! Entrance Exams’ coaching is a very old ‘coaching’ business avenue in India; but, demand for non formal education is being driven in a big way by children and young entrepreneurs in semi urban and rural areas. Now, I term this as a great success!! Because, I have been a part of ‘franchise’ movement of business centers, as early as 1989 in the semi urban and rural areas and I know it is not so easy to sell new business concepts to a market audience that resists change!

Focusing on multi-dimensional growth of children is not possible by a school class teacher; because the student curriculum has to be covered first. Yes, there is paucity of time that does not allow us to identify hidden talents in bright children. But, all facts accepted: there is an another side too: the children are getting over loaded; there is no much free time for them to play, socialise and it also adds pressure on to young children to perform! Ways of Growing are quite tedious – a word of caution??

(Data source: Economic Times)

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