If you are a parent in a middle class family, educating a child in a metropolitan city with those high tuition fees after the over-the-rooftop school fee will blow away your pocket. However, an increasing number of tuition centers have made private coaching a lucrative business opportunity. A billion dollar industry it is poised to be in next 10 years. And we are talking only about CBSE / ICSE coaching, and not IIT-JEE prep industry, which is already booming, thanks to world-class institutions like IITs.
|Educomp Leap "Smart Class" in action|
Unlike school, the tutor your child goes to, is running a business and is expected to give a professional treatment. Though a lot of private tutors have acclaimed fame in their regions, not all the tuition centers are being professionally run. Now, smelling an opportunity, a new breed of private coaching firms is coming up which claim to be professionally run and boast of quality education. We talked to Riju Gupta, Director, Educomp Leap and Anand Ramabhadran, Business Head, Education, HT Media, on what is the thought behind this initiative and how is it better than the neighbourhood private coaching centers. Educomp Leap is from the stable of Educomp and Studymate is a joint initiative of Hindustan Times and Mumbai based Mahesh Tutorials.
Why coaching in first place? After launch of CCE system in schools, the pressure on teachers has been increased. Teachers are required to be more tech savvy because of which basic nuances of various subject have gone for a toss. According to Jaspreet Kaur, a veteran teacher, “Because of the situation brought in by CCE, and parents understanding that private coaching is surely required, they are increasingly opting for it.” “Unlike students of smaller schools, those in big schools find a dire need for coaching,” she adds. A good point Ramabhadran adds is, “In India, kids take tuition to get more marks, unlike US where its remedial tutoring”. Few of the students, DARE team interacted with said, “In school, they don’t teach, they rush.”
|“There should be focus on incremental change in every kid by every tutor, rather than just a ‘pass marks’ attitude”
— Riju Gupta, Educomp Leap
About the novelty factor, Gupta says, “We follow a complete academic process. Every student gets his own separate file and Parent Teacher meetings are held regularly.” The evaluation system is very organised with report cards and marks being recorded for every test held frequently. There are projection systems in class with every teacher having a laptop. They have in-house content development teams to develop the video and print study material. All students are given books which ease the learning process. While, in Studymate, electronic attendance system automatically sends sms to parents about kid’s absence/ presence, in Educomp, students can access online video recordings of subject faculty anytime from home.
On being asked the need for such branded coaching centers, Ramabhadran says, “7% of the schools in India are run by private bodies and enroll 30% of students while balance 93% are run by government, which implies that there is a increasing need for quality education.” Also, where else would students get personality and career advice and counseling. Students often need to clear their doubts at late in the night before exam day. So, if something like a 24 hour helpline is to be offered to help them, it can only be done by an organised player. Its the comprehensive package one offers that can attract students to the organised coaching center.
|“An ideal tuition center should not only help you score well, but help you pursue what you love to do, since that will give you your career”
— Anand Ramabhadran
Getting good teachers and scaling up: In every region, there are few brilliant private tutors who have not been recognised by the system and are happy teaching on their own. The only issue is that since they are all self-trained entrepreneurs, they need to be trained in some aspects to become world-class teachers and to be able to help the students wholistically. From the point of professionalism, Bindu Puri, a teacher and Center Head with Educomp, and an IITian says, “I feel like having joined a corporate firm and not an educational institute.” “We are giving a professional career to college grads aspiring to be teachers”, adds Gupta, who recruits grads from IIT and DCE.
While its very difficult for a coaching center to scale up offering the same quality of teaching at all its centers, for these players, the model is self sustainable. The selection & training processes established for teachers makes sure of the uniform teaching quality students get across any of the centers. While Educomp is leveraging V-SAT technology to have best faculty teach at remote places, Studymate officials personally find and meet the tutors in each area and then give them training.
To help students understand and learn what they don’t, in schools, in a better, easier, and interesting way, use of technology is inevitable. Educomp uses its in-house technology “Smart Classes”, which has live videos and simulation of graphics. In fact, it is using better technology in its centers outside Delhi, where classes are being taken using V-SAT technology, with a teacher teaching live on a screen from a distance.
Studymate uses Mahesh Tutorial’s TAT (Technology Aided Teaching) as its competitive edge. It counts its two advantages as Visual Retention because of the live imagery and teachers’ ability to have full time eye contact with students ensuring personal attention, rather than back towards them, which is a small but good step.
Teaching the most common subjects of class 9 to 12, the pricing ranges from Rs 11000-25000 per year for one subject, with conditional bulk discounts for more than one subject. Both Gupta and Ramabhadran agree to the common objective behind starting the ventures. “Students wanting to get the best, have to go to different subject experts, while here they get all subject experts under one roof, which saves their time and money.”
Anita, a parent at Educomp Leap center, says, “The score of her child has improved, and now he likes to come here to study”. Independent interaction with students elicited only positive response from them. They were more than happy with the study material, with the teachers, with the classrooms and their results.
What can tutors do? Tutors must attend workshops on their subjects to remain updated on their subject, and also extensively use internet to go to international websites on their subject, say MIT’s site for science teachers. Besides, they must become technology friendly, which will help them become an entrepreneur and not be a one man show. Technology shall enable them to better help & assess the students. The best thing a tutor can do is to train new tutors of equal quality, who can teach and help more and more students.
If you are an aspiring tutor entrepreneur wanting to go the organised way, you now know how you can create competitive edge over others. Education is the way to go up, for the nation, quality education is the way to go up for tutor entrepreneurs.