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Teacher Tuesday

Public Private Partnerships (PPPs)

08-04-2014

The Times of India

Teachers from all over the world have stories to tell. Stories that are so different from each other, and yet so very similar. At the heart of the teaching and learning miracle lies the connect between the teacher and the student via the material. I have always maintained that teaching is a sort of energy transfer, where a teacher passes on the love for learning to the student. The rest is mere content.

For the past 7 weeks, thanks to UNESCO’s superb EFA team there has been a blogging revolution taking place. Each week we listen to, and talk to teachers from all over the world. Each week a different teaching challenge is observed and discussed. It has been a phenomenal ride, from the war torn Syria to the very organised Netherlands.

We explored the universal problem of teacher shortages and how a teacher from Malawi understands the issues to the challenges of bilingual teaching in the hondurasall the way to the challenges of including more girls in education in Afghanistan, especially when schools had restrictions and then on to teaching in poverty in Africa.

It is not over yet. We are yet to meet more teachers, and authors all over the world read into their stories and share what struck them most. For me, the universality of the teaching experience despite challenges has been the greatest learning. And the fact that I learn to respect Indian teachers even more – each one of these situations is  reflected in some part of India. There are areas that are strife torn and have been for decades. How do teachers manage over there? Poverty? We have both government and private schools serving extremely poor communities, educating children often with little or no resources. Bilingual teaching is a reality that desperately needs to be acknowledged by Indian examination boards and of course pedagogical processes and textbook authorities. Most classes in the younger years are de facto bilingual and the advantages are well known. Each of these challenges has a different solution in parts of the world. Some specific to the teacher, some systemic.

Sometimes solutions cannot wait for systems. And this week’s story is about one such school and teacher. She is Masammat, and she teaches in a solar floating school in Bangladesh. The school is owned and run by a philanthropic trust and is connected by internet to the rest of the world. Why is it on a boat? Because through a quarter of the year when the monsoon strikes this part of Bangladesh is flooded and children cannot reach school. Simple – if the children cannot come to school, let the school go to them.

Masammat has not received much teacher training but is an experienced teacher and gets support to improve her teaching practice. She teaches class 2, and has ten years of schooling and ten years of teaching experience. She teaches 4 hours a day – each class is 30 students and they do 3 batches a day. The school has 90 students, in three shifts. The boat travels from one village to another to give access to the students. Solar roofs, internet connectivity and monsoon resistant, this school provides education throughout the year to students who would have been left behind otherwise.

As I read her story I wonder – how do the teachers get support? How do they assess themselves and their students. In Massammat’s own words –

“All teachers attend a two-week long orientation training at the beginning of their work here. The training covers the project overview, floating school, curriculum, parents meeting and reporting guidelines. Also, there are day-long refresher training sessions every month. They cover next month’s syllabus and teaching guidelines, parents meeting agenda and extracurricular activities. At the monthly training, we discuss also about the school performance during the previous month, challenges, and required educational materials (we receive primary textbooks – grade 2 to 4 – from Upazila Education Offices of the Bangladesh Government). We also share feedback received from the parents.”

These are students in remote areas who would be left bereft of literacy if such initiatives and private schools did not exist. What is encouraging here is the public private partnership that we see – books coming from the state, the infrastructure from a trust. And the big story here is the technology that meets the gap – there is enough proof from around the world that show how technology in its various forms has helped bridge the last mile problems faced by children and communities in rural areas. Of course it can never be a complete solution to a perfect well trained and passionate teacher but in areas where teachers and teaching equipment is in short supply this goes a long way to bringing basic education to students.

One of the things I do is run a monthly online chat on education issues in India (called #EduIn) – an egalitarian discussion on issues that matter in education. The chat on technology in education had a clear outcome – technology was but a tool, it could never be a substitute for teaching. Yet, its value was immense and blended learning did improve learning outcomes. In remote areas like the place Massamat teaches at there is a more basic requirement for technology to be useful for learning – literacy. As the UNESCO report points out both adults and children need to have the skills necessary to manage information in digital environments. Massamat and her school provide just that first link in a lifelong journey into learning, skills and employability for these students.

(Footnote: India too has some great stories about technology bridging the last mile. Too many to tell here. But the journey has just begun and there are many more who will grow into being denizens, and active citizens in this digital age)

The lesson for us teachers? Time to step up and be included in the digital age, by including technology in what we do. Demand more and better from your providers by telling them what works best in your classroom. Do tell us more – what helped your students learn better?

As for Teacher Tuesday? We still have a few more weeks with great stories from around the world. Join us on twitter for the chat (#teachertuesday) or follow the blogs to learn more about teachers around the world.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.
This blog was originally posted in The Times of India.
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Public-Private Partnerships in School Education – Learning and Insights for India

Public Private Partnerships (PPPs)

Shweta Chaudhry & Aarushi Uboweja

Central Square Foundation; Working Paper

March 2014

Abstract: Public-Private Partnerships can introduce innovation and investment into India’s government school system, which urgently needs to improve the quality of education. Lessons from existing models in India and international efforts at collaboration between the private and public sector show that PPPs have an important role in improving the system.

The complete working paper can be accessed here.

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What makes a successful Public Private Partnership (education) model?

Public Private Partnerships (PPPs)

Ayushi Tandon

Since the creation of modern education systems, the private sector has been involved in education activities even if political factors, resources available and local traditions have influenced the role that the latter has played. Religious schools, education entrepreneurs, families or community organisations have participated in activities of provision and funding of education across India. However, new arrangements between the state and private actors are emerging in the education field, often introduced under the umbrella of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs).

PPPs are defined as a new form of education governance that seeks to correct inefficiencies in public delivery of education services and to mobilise new resources to make education more effective. The evolution of India’s education system has been driven by increased focus on basic elementary education, therefore PPPs at the elementary level will take longer to mature as the political climate slowly evolves and becomes more conducive to usher in professional PPP frameworks. At the secondary level, however, there is arguably greater acceptance of the entire PPP debate and where Model Schools schemes appear as the most fertile area for PPP engagement.

Yet, while PPP initiatives in India have grown stronger, there are two factors that are essential for the success of such models:

  1. Appropriate funding and adequate mobilisation of resources
  2. Autonomy to optimise the school management’s ability to function

These are exemplified in the Punjab Education Foundation (PEF) model. PEF is an organisation founded by the Provincial Assembly of Punjab to sponsor PPPs in education. Their model demonstrates that public and private institutions working together can be extremely successful due to a combination of private sector efficiency and public sector funding. In case of PEF model, it has been seen that funding a service can be separated from its actual provision and favourably impact quality, accessibility and accountability.

In the case of the Foundation Assisted School (FAS) program, another PPP model in Punjab, Pakistan; financing comes from the public sector to the selected private institutions. While the institution’s management remains autonomous, the Quality Assurance Test (QAT) drives in accountability from the FAS partners to meet quality requirements. (Read more)

Additionally, the development of school vouchers scheme in a PPP format with the example of Pahal in Uttarakhand, shows how specific issues of marginalisation and social integration can successfully be addressed. Pahal is an initiative launched by the SSA in Uttarakhand for providing education to urban underprivileged children (6-14 years) in three districts of the state. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan has entered into Public Private Partnership with the government recognised private schools in urban city slums. The scheme has a provision of INR 3,000 per annum and per-child, payable in three equal installments directly to the accredited schools. The Pahal scheme began in Dehradun on a pilot basis in 2007-2008 and later extended to Udham Singh Nagar and Haridwar. (Read more)

Hence, we must work towards systemic reforms for existing PPPs such as the government-aided school systems and the enforcement of the 25% reservations. We need to put a sustained effort in delineating distinct roles for the private and public players. It is necessary to find the right balance between securing the necessary autonomy for private partners to function efficiently, while making them accountable, to provide a better quality of instruction that will strengthen PPPs role in education provision.

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NON-STATE PROVIDERS AND PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS IN EDUCATION FOR THE POOR

Public Private Partnerships (PPPs)

Norman LaRocque and Sena Lee

UNICEF, 2011

Abstract

Access to education is considered a basic human right and the role of the state in delivering this right is legally codified in international rights treaties including the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Yet, states throughout East Asia and the Pacific face persistent budgetary and institutional constraints that plague both the coverage and quality of education services limiting the fulfilment of this right. Capacity constraints coupled with the increasing demand for education have resulted in an increase in the number of private actors (businesses, NGOs, faith-based organizations and civil society) engaged in service delivery. This has largely been in the form of privately-funded and privately-owned schools and the provision of ancillary services such as the provision of food and transport services. Recent years have seen the introduction of more sophisticated forms of private involvement in education.

It is increasingly rare to find education systems funded and provided solely by the state. As a whole, the East Asia and Pacific region has the second highest share of global public expenditure on education, but this is considerably less than their share of global wealth. In contrast, private expenditure on education is estimated to be high in the region, due to various types of user fees, whether direct tuition fees or indirect fees such as the cost of uniforms, textbooks, etc. Private expenditure makes up a large percentage of total expenditure on primary to post-secondary, non-tertiary education in Indonesia and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic– higher than relatively affluent countries like Japan. This contradicts the popular notion that private education is not prevalent in low- income countries. While it is generally true that most spending goes toward private education institutions, private financing of public education is also common.

Despite its prevalence, private provision is still a contentious issue in the region. Private funding and delivery of education services are often perceived as a threat to state authority (rather than complementary or agents of government programmes). In the case of for-profit institutions, the profit motive is often viewed as incongruent with the perception of education as a social rather than commercial good. Because of this, governments across the region have been reluctant to recognize explicitly the role played by the private sector in their legislation or in education plans and strategies developed across the region. Some governments have banned the existence of private schools or have limited the number of schools that can be established. Private sector providers serving low-income communities are often not captured in national data, as the incidence of non-registration among private providers, especially small-scale, NGO-type providers, is relatively high compared to urban, large-scale private providers. Others choose to remain unregistered and thus not under the purview of government, due to the existence of legal and regulatory hurdles that may restrict their operations. This raises issues relating to quality, especially for poor communities where children predominantly attend unregistered schools and have no legal or regulatory protection.

Where alternative private providers are engaged in education services, it is the state’s responsibility to regulate and monitor these services to ensure appropriate standards and equality of opportunities. Importantly, more countries are recognizing the existence of the non-state sector and the utility of using non-state providers for advancing national education goals and priorities. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) with non-state providers can take many forms and the goal often is the same – expanding quality education for all while reducing costs. In PPPs, the public sector defines the scope of outputs, while the private sector is in charge of delivering on them.

In order to operate effectively, PPPs require a vibrant and dynamic private education sector. Despite the  significant role played by private education in the region, there are few PPPs in operation in EAP countries compared to other regions. Overly complex school registration criteria and processes; inconsistent enforcement of regulations, leading to corruption; overlapping jurisdictions; weak legal frameworks; and funding restrictions for private schools restrict further private sector engagement. Providing legal recognition for private providers, both for-profit and not-for-profit, is a first step to building political and public support for private sector involvement in education. Legal recognition is slowly evolving across the region. The People’s Republic of China and the Philippines already provide explicit constitutional or legislative recognition of the private sector’s role in education. Improvements are also being made in streamlining school registration processes, for instance ensuring that registration is time-bound and that establishment requirements are transparent.

Non-state providers present a significant resource for improving access and quality in education, and they are likely to remain a major force in the overall market for education, with or without state support. The State can foster a dynamic private sector and can harness its strengths by introducing well-designed policy frameworks and by promoting PPPs that improve education provision for the poor. To be successful, PPPs must be effectively designed and implemented.

Building on their respective strengths, the ADB and UNICEF can promote better understanding of non-state providers and the potential for PPPs to leverage resources toward achieving the goals of Education for All. Knowledge generation, policy advocacy and developing capacity and partnerships for PPPs are areas in which ADB and UNICEF can collectively contribute to ensure that services provided fit broader cost, quality, and equity needs.

To read more: 

http://www.unicef.org/eapro/Final_NSP_lowres.pdf

 

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PPP MODEL SCHOOLS ? WORRIES OVER COMMERCIALISATION

MHRD, Public Private Partnerships (PPPs)

29-Jul-2013 :

Business Times

 The Human Resource Development Ministry’s move towards introducing model schools under public-private partnership (PPP), as announced recently, may change the face of Indian school education.

While Government-private partnership in school education is not new in the country (Government-aided private schools exist), what would set these schools apart is the larger control that private players would have over governance. Further, the scheme allows private players to use the school premises for vocational education, skills training or any other approved educational activity to enhance its revenue.

On July 20, HRD Minister M.M. Pallam Raju unveiled plans for the first 50 of the proposed 2,500 PPP model schools on a pilot basis, which will be operational from the 2015-16 academic session.

Incidentally, the plan to set up such model schools in educationally backward regions has been in the offing for over five years.

“The objective of this scheme is to set up 2,500 schools through PPP for providing quality education to about 40 lakh children, of which 25 lakh would be from socially and economically disadvantaged categories,” a HRD Ministry paper said.

Already a few model schools exist, such as Adarsh schools in Punjab, run by Bharti Foundation, the philanthropy arm of Bharti Enterprises.

Vijay Chadda, CEO, Bharti Foundation, sees PPP schools as the future of the country.

“We do seem to have a problem with the Government education system.,” he said, adding that the need for letting private parties come into school system was felt primarily because of the inefficient systems in Government-run schools.

He said more than funds, accountability was lacking in Government schools, which is where private parties could play a role if they were given operational control.

However, Chadda agreed that despite the Planning Commission chalking out stringent and elaborate agreements for private parties, there is always danger of commercialisation.

And this is what worries a number of educationists, too, despite the clause that at least 40 per cent of the students in these schools would be from the under-privileged sections.

An HRD Ministry official said the Government will spend the same amount incurred by it for each Kendriya Vidyalaya student, where its spending per child is about Rs 21,000-22,000 annually.

However, the private party running the school will have the authority to determine the fees for the rest of the 60 per cent students.

An educationist, who wished to remain anonymous, questioned the need for giving operational freedom to private parties. He said the country needed a uniform education system, not just a uniform syllabus. Ossie Fernandes, Director, Human Rights Advocacy and Research Foundation, said the move to allow private parties will only encourage more commercialisation.

“Instead of the State taking on a pivotal role, permitting private parties is only going to turn education, which should be meant to foster social change, into a business.”

Meanwhile, CPM politburo member Brinda Karat criticised the move saying the Government was essentially funding the private institutions from the public exchequer.

“They are going to allow private parties to run the schools without any control, even on fees,” she said, adding that the Government should, instead, look at increasing the budgetary allocation towards education from the current 3.7 per cent to the proposed six per cent of GDP.

Under the scheme, the private party is required to build the infrastructure, and acquire land from State Governments. Experts fear the land would be provided at subsidised cost. Further, management would be in the hands of the private party.

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Lok Capital, Acumen to fund social education venture

Curriculum Development, Public Private Partnerships (PPPs)

New Delhi: Venture capital (VC) firms Lok Capital and Acumen Fund have invested about Rs. 8 crore in a Karnataka-based social education venture, Hippocampus Learning Centres, that takes kindergarten concepts to villages.

In two years, Lok Capital, which has mainly invested in microfinance firms, aims to add up to five education ventures to its investment portfolio. It will invest in for-profit education ventures with scalable business models, but which are also affordable and capable of bringing grassroots change, said Ganesh Rengaswamy, partner, Lok Capital.
“The investment in Hippocampus is small-ticket but it’s important as it is our first in the sector,” he said. “We are evaluating other ventures like in education, skill and employment…. In next two-three years, we look at investing in three-five ventures.”

Lok Fund-II has a corpus of around Rs. 450 crore with a focus on financial inclusion, education and allied fields, and healthcare.

Livemint, 14 May 2012

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Successful education initiative featured

Global news, Private schools, Public Private Partnerships (PPPs)

WASHINGTON: Malaysia’s successful transnational higher education initiative led by private colleges and universities was featured at the International Education Summit held here on the occasion of the G8 summit, Deputy Director-General of Higher Education Datin Dr Siti Hamisah Tapsir said here Sunday.
Dr Siti Hamisah, guest speaker at the Institute of International Education (IIE) seminar on the economic impact of higher education, explained to international educators and policy makers how Malaysia turned around the 1997 financial crisis, which almost crippled the nation’s economy, to its advantage when the country sought creative ways to liberalise its higher education.
The long-term plan succeeded with Malaysia reducing its student population overseas; moving to twinning programmes with established universities; attracting international students to local Malaysian colleges; and now Malaysia’s private colleges and universities venturing overseas to set up branches in India, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.
“We are now the champion in transnational higher education among emerging countries which welcome Malaysian colleges to open up their branches in their countries,” she told Bernama here.
The government has also engaged in the active promotion and marketing of Malaysia as an excellent hub for higher education, and in the rebranding and upgrading of its higher education institutions that meet international standards to attract more students from overseas.
The government measure is showing results. Currently, out of a total of 1.1 million students in higher education, about 10 per cent or 100,000 are foreign nationals from Indonesia, China, India, Africa and the Middle East studying mainly technology-related subjects as part of their nation-building, said Dr Siti Hamisah.
She added that each foreign student spent about RM30,000 per year for tuition, room and board. A female student from the Middle East may spend more if she comes with her family members, thus creating a multiplier effect in terms of tourism and medical tourism, estimated at RM3 billion a year.
The Ministry of Higher Education estimates the foreign student population to grow to 150,000 by 2015 and to 200,000 by 2020.
After a successful inaugural meeting in Paris in May 2011, the IIE convened this year’s International Education Summit on the Occasion of the G8, entitled “International Education: A Global Economic Engine”.
The annual education summit saw a gathering of representatives from the major national exchange organisations and government agencies involved in international academic mobility and cooperation.
The two-day meeting from May 2 – attended by G8 members and participants from Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Qatar – served as a platform for countries to share national priorities, discuss potential areas of collaboration, promote global academic mobility, and raise awareness of the economic impact of international education among the G8 leaders.
The G8 summit, a separate event hosted by the White House, will take place at Camp David on May 18 and 19, addressing a range of economic, political and security issues.
The G8 members are the United States, Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United Kingdom.

NewStraitsTimes, 07 May 2012

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Govt invites private companies to start secondary schools

Private schools, Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), Quality, Uncategorized

Govt seeks expressions of interest from firms to open 2,500 secondary schools over the next five years

Following a road map laid out in the budget, the Union government has invited proposals from companies to open secondary schools, amid increasing concern over the quality of education being imparted in India’s class rooms.

The human resource development (HRD) ministry, which oversees education, has sought expressions of interest from companies in joining the public-private partnership (PPP) project to open 2,500 schools over the next five years.

Private entities will procure the land, and design, develop, operate and manage the schools, the HRD ministry said in a document outlining the proposal. The government will offer a 25% infrastructure grant and the recurring cost of education for students sponsored by it.

Under the Right to Education Act, at least 25% of a school’s students can belong to underprivileged families and are entitled to free education.

The government will pay for their schooling.

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, in his 16 March budget speech, outlined a proposal to open 6,000 model schools, including 2,500 on the PPP model, in the 12th Five-Year Plan period that began on 1 April.

The budget pegs an outlay of Rs.972 crore in 2012-13 for the model schools.

The 2,500 secondary schools, to be modelled after the Central schools run by the HRD ministry, will be planned as joint ventures between the Union government and private firms.

This is the first such move by the government, which has repeatedly said that the public sector on its own will not be able to boost the country’s education sector.

According to details in the ministry’s documents, even companies without any experience in education can bid to open schools. “A corporate entity would be eligible for one school for every Rs.25 crore net worth subject to interest bearing deposit of Rs.50 lakh each for up to three schools and Rs.25 lakh per school thereafter,” it said.

An education firm already running at least one Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) school—from which at least two consecutive batches have graduated from class X—can qualify for three schools under the PPP project.

Firms with schools that have not scaled up to the class X level will be eligible for one school, the ministry said in the document explaining the eligibility framework.

A company can qualify for three schools if it has run educational institutes for five years and can deposit Rs.25 lakh for each school. While the interest from the deposits will accrue to the government, the capital will be released to the company in three annual instalments after the school starts operation.

“I think this is the best way of leveraging both the government and private sector to solve the education challenge. Let’s hope they (government) make some real progress in the next one year,” said Satya Narayanan, chief executive of CL Educate Ltd, which runs a chain of schools and test preparatory centres across India.

He added that the documents seem to suggest that interested players need to have “reputation and a track record or net worth. In a way, even if you are a liquor company, you can still bid for it (a school). However, the interest-bearing deposit clause seems like a guard against non-serious players.” He said his company “would definitely participate in the process to open PPP schools”. There are an estimated 290 million students enrolled in kindergarten to class XII (K-12) schools in India, of whom 7.4 million attend private schools in the cities, according to Parthenon Group, an international consulting and advisory firm.

Of the private school population, about 7.1 million students pay less than Rs.40,000 in annual fees, the firm said in a recent report.

India’s education market was worth $40 billion in 2008, of which the K-12 segment was worth $20 billion, according to securities firm CLSA.

Though updated data wasn’t available, CLSA had predicted in its report that by the end of 2012, the K-12 segment alone would be worth $29 billion. It also said the school and private college segment had huge growth potential.

At a meeting of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nations on Thursday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reiterated India’s focus on education and job creation.

“In India, for example, we need to create 8-10 million jobs every year over the next decade to absorb the expected growth in the labour force. We are working on ambitious programmes of skill upgradation and education and creation of an environment conducive to an expansion of productive job opportunities,” he said. “We would like to learn from the experiences of other Brics countries on how they are dealing with these problems.”

India has a labour pool of about 429 million that is likely to grow by around 12 million every year, according to the Economic Survey 2011-12. Here, the education and training of this workforce will be a key challenge for the country, which spends less than 4% of its gross domestic product on education, the survey report said.

Livemint, 03 April 2012

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Scheme for Augmenting School Education through Public Private Partnership Report

Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), Research

PPP in school education is essentially an arrangement where the private sector partner participates in the provision of services traditionally provided by the government. It is usually characterized by an agreement between the government and the private sector, with the latter undertaking to deliver an agreed service on the payment of a unitary charge by the government. The need for PPP in school education primarily arises out of the government‟s commitment to provide world-class education to under-privileged children who cannot afford the tuition fee that a private school would normally charge. While access to quality education for the underprivileged is traditionally expected from government schools, they alone may not be able to fulfil this enormous task. The justification for PPP schools arises primarily from the need to accelerate the expansion of education, supplement investment and enable different models for improving the quality of education. Click here to read more.

The Report of the Sub-group is submitted for consideration of the Ministry of HRD, 25 May 2010

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One Stop Shop for Education in India Is Looking for Investors

Edupreneurship, For-profit education, Public Private Partnerships (PPPs)

The idea of free educational resource stemmed from the fact that education as a sector has received huge attention from private players. Extragrades.com is equipped to become largest repository of educational content.

Our mission is to help students make sense of confusing schoolwork.

Why online tests when there are so many?

Each course covers the topics in detail. Our course material is self-explanatory and the chapters in each course are largely self-contained. However this guide gives a list of easily available books as recommended reading to give further insight into the subject. This is something that is missing from other so-called competitors.

Maharashtra Board:

Maharashtra board was a natural choice since we are based in Mumbai, besides there are statistics that compel us believe that this is an attractive proposition. Around 1.44 million students from 13,835 schools gave the SSC examination and over 800,000 students from 3,581 schools/colleges gave the HSC examination. This figures are just for class X and Class XII students, the figure is mind-boggling when we include the students in the group of class VI to Class IX. Our estimate clearly shows that by just focusing on Maharashtra board alone we have potential clientele of 5 million students.

Why there is a need for us?
Education as a sector has witnessed explosive activity in recent years with active participation of private sector. Sadly corporate sector is focusing its attention on establishing international schools and smaller private player’s sole focus is to sell the tests or test-series, none of which solve the problem a student faces.

Seeking answers to questions that puzzle them, our vision is different, it not only provides comprehensive notes (that too free) but it would also provide a testing platform where a student after revising a lesson can take different tests, what we mean by different tests is that each test is prepared on different parameters, a fill in the blanks tests only objective reasoning, while multiple choice may test his understanding, we even have short answers test where a student can input a short answer, this will test his understanding as well as his skills of writing a paper, presently the companies that are engaged in online education have tests based only on MCQ’s or fill in the blanks, this has very limited scope of testing a student’s knowledge.

We intend to be a step ahead.

Another fact that has prompted us to believe that we must have presence in Maharashtra is the fact that leading study guides publisher Navneet Publications Ltd. derives more than 100 crores of its turnover through the sale of study guides, this clearly demonstrates that there is a need for our products.

The arguments for C.B.S.E. and I.C.S.E. are same as above though I.C.S.E. has lesser number of students compared to SSC, yet C.B.S.E. and I.C.S.E. offers us an opportunity for international exposure since numerous students are located abroad, another argument for C.B.S.E. and I.C.S.E. is that they both have literature as a subject, literature guides have international demand since Shakespeare and other novels are prescribed in curriculums world over, this gives us tremendous edge since there is not a single website that offers comprehensive literature content, having a presence in international domain can benefit the company in terms of creating brand equity, something that will drive the value of the company.

Competitive exams:

Competitive exams present huge opportunity, in MHT-CET alone around 2.95 lakh students appear every year.

We strongly believe that revenues would follow. Investors can contact us for more information.

Rationale for the deal:

When we conceptualized the project little thought was given to monetization, in fact the revenue model was completely absent, we just wanted to become repository of largest question bank on internet, and our aim was to have a question bank of 100,000 competitive exams solutions and an equal number of school sections.

We strongly believe that revenues would follow, yet one stream which can generate considerable revenue is advertising, companies are ready to take advantage of the booming student community needs, the educational accessories market have expanded and everybody are vying to reach the potential customers, it is here that we can bridge the gap between manufacturers and end users, advertising can generate considerable revenues, enough to recover costs and yet offer the content free.

Another way of monetization could be to offer the study materials at nominal fee say Rs. 120 for unlimited access of content, this would require expenditure on advertising as well preparation of content before adoption of this model, and while Rs. 120 or $3 may seem miniscule the logistics can be mind-boggling. In competitive exams alone one can easily target 20,000 students, on most conservative note this is easily achievable so revenues can be generated easily.

Another way to keep site free but have the user register, while this may not bring immediate revenues, this will equip us with a huge databank which can be utilized to sell as leads to manufacturers and service providers. For example justdial.com, a local search engine sells the calls it receives in form of leads at the rate of Rs. 30.00 per lead, being in a niche field the value of lead increases even more, by keeping the site free it is not impossible to generate 100,000 leads in a year and there is a definite market waiting to tap the leads.

Content Licensing:

One area that holds tremendous promise in terms of revenue is content licensing. The licensing can be done in following ways:

[1] Content licensing to commercial entities like coaching institutes can be hugely profitable, given the fact that most coaching institutes do not enjoy economies of scale and thus find it very difficult to prepare study notes, most of these coaching institutes source their content requirement from small publishers like Unique Solutions, our strategy is to offer content license where a coaching institute is free to use our content in their institutes for a fee, besides this we would also provide a test portal where the students can attempt online tests, thus the coaching institute not only saves money but it offers them an opportunity to re-brand themselves using online testing platform.

[2] The introduction of 3G has seen surge demand from telecom companies that are vying with each other to provide content that is useful to their users, besides gaming and other entertainment applications, education too is witnessing huge demand. Companies like NOKIA have already jumped the bandwagon by launching education in Mera Nokia app. Companies like Onmobile Global, that act as content aggregator has seen surge in demand in education through mobile learning.

Use of financing:

We require the investment for creating content, presently we have data bank of 4000 questions and we intend to scale the same to 50000 questions and solutions. We intend to offer mock-exams to students of MBA and engineering exams.

Our objective is to become one stop shop for education.

MERAR, 24 March 2012

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