Education Enablers And Entrepreneurs
How education can play the role of both a lucrative and noble enterprise
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At the 2017 edition of BW Education’s ‘Top Education Brands Of India 2017’, top industry veterans and experts came together to analyse, discuss and recognise education establishments across the day-long conference and awards ceremony. The private education sector, which was valued at around $96 billion in 2015 is estimated to reach $133 billion by 2020, according to India Brand Equity Foundation. The ‘Top Education Brands Of India 2017’initiative has come at a time when the country is witnessing a surge of ‘educational brands’ and franchise-based schools as well as the group-led educational institutions, which has converted education into a much more competitive space.
Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri awardee and former principal of New Delhi-based DPS, RK Puram, Shayama Chona called for a greater participation of the private sector in education and make it a priority.
“The opportunity is in the hands of private entrepreneurs, I would
rather call them social entrepreneurs, has been limited. They are not able to take it to the level it should be. I applaud those entrepreneurs, as what could not be accomplished elsewhere is undertaken by the private sector,” said Chona.
Panellists also deliberated on why just building a brand is not enough, the industry now needs course correction simultaneously.
Moderator for one of the sessions, Madhuri Parti, Director Academics, Lakshmipat Singhania Education Foundation, pointed out that “building a brand merely is not enough, but sustaining it is where the challenge truly lies”.
Echoeing Chona’s views, Parti, too, pointed out that privatisation in this space should not be looked down upon. “It is not a sinful word, nor a crime,” Chona had said earlier, while talking about profits in the sphere of education.
Technology is making headway in almost all sectors, including education. A panel discussion on how technology is transforming the status quo of education addressed the right questions.
“I see technology still at the periphery of our education system,” said Anmol Arora, MD, Shemrock Group. “We have large numbers of edu-tech companies and IT enablers. We have a huge supply and demand and an understanding that this marriage of technology and education would be perfect, but somehow at the ground level it’s a forced relation,” pointed out Arora.
On the contrary, Hemant Sahal, Founder & CEO, CollPoll, said technology has not been able to integrate into the education space because of limited understanding of technology investment benefits.
Another discussion on education brand investment saw panellists like Billa Bhandari, CEO Geneva School of Public Policy and Governance; Neeraj Sharma, CEO, Indian School Finance Corporation; Bobby Bhatia, CEO and co-founder, Frankinvest and Dilip Puri, founder and CEO, Indian School of Hospitality.
Sharma while talking about ROI and how it depends on various factors said, “It is a lucrative business but returns highly depend on your selection.”
Puri pointed out the importance of life-skills in higher level education. He said, “The business of education is important because a school or an institution performing well financially would only be able to pay its teachers and other staff members well. And only then it would become easier to introduce technology-based enablers and other devices to improve the education quality in India.”
The conference also hosted a discussion on ethics vs business and how we need perceive education in the country. Kunwar Shekhar Vijendra, Chancellor, Shobhit University said, “Education is not a profession, it is a passion.” He further added that it is believed that business in education is not carried out for profit, but that dilemma needs to be removed.
S.S. Mantha, Former Chairman, All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) said that the “constitutional position holds that education is not for profit, it is seen as imparting knowledge”. Mantha elaborated this by saying that it is usually believed that “knowledge and making money do not go hand-in-hand, thus people need to come together to self- regulate.”
Another issue that was discussed during this session was the elitism in higher education in India. Professor Kamal Mitra Chenoy, JNU said, “In India, we are reproducing elitism in the sphere of higher education specifically, which is clearly leading in creating a greater gap between the levels of universities like the IITs, JNU and other state universities which is at a much lower level.”
“We must have a more adequate and an egalitarian educational system so that each individual has a better chance at a decent education, which is currently not the state,” he emphasised.
Addressing the conference, Manish Kumar, CEO, National Skill Development Centre, said that they train about 5 lakh students every year from Class 9 to Class 12 and about 86 per cent of these students are able to find employment. “They are trained in 16 different skills, based on their choice of what they want to be trained on. This shows that when we do skilling in schools, the outcome is far superior,” said Kumar.
Skilling should start at school-level as both skills and academics co-exist and when people move from academics to a skill-based environment, there remains no bar between a skilled person and an academician as it was the case earlier, Kumar said on the sidelines of event held on 3 November at Le Meridian, New Delhi.
Having analysed and discussed the various issues aligning the education sector in the country with a special emphasis on ‘educational brands’, the conference concluded with felicitating the winners spanning across various education categories including best Pre-school franchise brands, K-12 franchise brands, K-12 school of the year and other higher education group awards.