Unique concepts Jan, 12 2010

Encouraging phonetics among kids

By Abha Garyali
Encouraging phonetics among kids

With the view to make each child learn the usage of sound of human speech, Shainaz Jussa, Principal Instructor and Director, Phonickids is the first to launch one of its kind in India. The lady herself talks about this unique concept and her plans of franchising. 

Abha Garyali (AG): From where did you get the inspiration for starting ‘PhonicKids’?

Shainaz Jussa(SJ): In the year 2002 I was introduced with Phonics in UK where I volunteered as an assistant teacher to my son’s kindergarten. There I learnt that phonics was a fun way to teach young kids the usage of English sounds which would help them to read and pronounce the words correctly. After returning to India I saw that Indian kids were compelled to learn and write and recognise alphabets through pictured examples. This method restrained the Indian kids to read and develop strong communication skills. This inspired me to foray into phonetics and within 3 years of being an instructor in Mumbai, I instituted Phonickids to exclusively teach Phonics.  

AG: What is the USP of Phonickids?

SJ: Phonickids has many USPs. The top three are listed below:  

  • Phonickids has adopted phonics methodology developed by two British teachers, Sue Lloyd and Sara Williams from UK. I am a ‘Certified Professional Trainer’ under the Jolly Learning Institute of UK. I am also certified on ‘How to Teach and not Tell’ from Harvard Graduate School of Education.
  • Phonickids, apart from teaching phonetics, also teaches associated courses like grammar and advanced readers, enabling our students to not only read English, but also to ‘speak’ and ‘spell’ English words correctly..
  • Phonickids format is a unique combination of classroom based teaching with ‘interactive seating’ along with audio and visual medium of communications.

AG: How is the concept of Phonickids evolving in India? Do you foresee a bright future?

SJ: Indian primary education is extremely outdated and restrains kids to develop a sound foundation, which ideally should be based on ability to ‘read’ and ‘speak’ English well. There is a good opportunity within India to institute phonics in the early childhood stages (four to six years of age). With the existing set of schools and private centres, lessons of phonics does not cover even one per cent of the total population of kids in India. Phonics has a bright future in India and will revolutionalise early education system in India.  

AG: How many centers do you have at present and in which all cities? What are the future target locations for your expansion?

SJ: Phonickids currently operates at three independent locations within Mumbai. We intend to increase our footprint to about 20 locations within Mumbai and 10 locations in the west India zone by 2010. We see no limitations in the ability to have Phonickids branches pan-India but at the same time we do not wish to expand at the risk of diluting the quality of our offerings. With this view in mind, we have only made our franchise programme available to women entrepreneurs. We believe that women have the inherent quality to nurture young kids and show genuine interest in contributing towards childhood education.

AG: What kind of training and support a franchisee would get when partnering with you?

SJ: We will be imparting comprehensive one month training to the franchisee’s teachers. This training will comprise of classroom based training as well as hands-on training delivered through Phonickids unique ‘Shadow, Reverse-Shadow’ knowledge transition methodology. It is Phonickids’ interest to ensure that the franchisees are well trained on various courses and business operations.  

AG: What are the challenges that can be faced by a franchisee in this business? How can these challenges be overcome?

SJ: There are no serious challenges in this business in particular. Basic business oriented challenges faced may be attrition of teachers, communicating with all the parents at short notices in case of calamities like heavy rains, man-made disasters, and managing kids during sessions or when they fall sick during the sessions etc. 

AG: What kind of background is necessary for securing a franchise of your company?

SJ: Our basic requirement is that the franchisee must have immense passion for teaching young kids. They should have genuine interest in imparting quality education to each and every child in the class. From a commercial stand-point, we would want the franchisee to have the ability to arrange space of at least 600 sq.ft and capacity to invest around Rs 6 lakh to Rs 8 lakh (depending on the location).

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