"Keeping students’ needs as the prime focus, we at Billabong designed a curriculum with a holistic and interdisciplinary approach.", says Lina Ashar, Founder, Billabong high International School
As a teacher teaching in Australia in the late 80’s, Lina Ashar knew inherently that if she learnt how to engage her students,that would only be made possible by assimilation of knowledge or acquisition of skills. Today with the advent of technology and the advances in science and medicine, brain research is validating what passionate teachers inherently and always knew.
Her vision led to the foundation of Billabong High International School, Mumbai, in June 2006 at Santacruz. In an exclusive with educationbiz, Founder Lina Ashar shares the strategies that are on the progress in scaling up the K12 segment.
What makes you different from your contenders?
KKEL has been a pioneer in the field of Education, one of the first brands to start a premium preschool in the country. As an organization, we have always been ahead of our time. Years back, when we started experience based learning in the preschool domain, no one was doing that and still we see top players playing a catch-up game with our curriculum. We then started creating our own curriculum for schools, which yet again is a revolutionary teaching methodology that enables us to the process of reinventing our curriculum and digitizing learning. Staying ahead of time makes us different from our contenders.
What attracted you towards Franchising?
To realize our vision for the education sector, we decided to adopt the franchising business model in 1995. Franchising allows a brand to achieve rapid growth within a short period of time; we have also benefitted from the same. We endeavor to continuously innovate to make sure our franchisee is ahead of the competition – thereby fostering strong loyalty towards our Brand. Today, KKEL supports 50 centers (owned as well as franchisee set ups) in India operating across 17 cities and has an international presence in Dubai and Maldives and is still growing rapidly.
How many franchise units you are planning to open in next 12 months?
We have aggressively planned to expand nationally and more importantly internationally for both preschools & K12 schools. We plan to expand internationally especially in the Gulf and Asian markets.
What is your business vision and how do you plan to achieve it in next five years?
Our vision is to continue to be Asia’s most innovative and premium education chain in the next few years and continue to be leaders in innovation of Education. We have setup a designated tech team to understand & implement a futuristic digital offering which will ensure we are ahead by leaps and bounds with competition. We will also be focusing on increasing the number of franchise centers to ensure we have more centers igniting human greatness.
How is your brand scaling up the franchising business in the K12 sector?
K12 sector is the most heated segment in the education space, since starting a school is a sign of prosperity and the fact that it enables to leave behind a legacy. For us, since our current partners are happy they are our brand evangelists resulting in organic growth. But now we are working with consultants to turbo charge the process for both nationally and internationally.
Why K12 education segment has become a hot spot among investors?
Education is a necessity for any country as there is a surge of young population. It is important to understand and accept that we are in the era of technology and the demand for an upgraded system is necessary. Let us look at how the Preschool industry had grown.
Being one of the key players in the K12 space, how are you taking charge for K12 revolution?
We have an insight to the future. We know that technology will be an integral part of any sector and education will also change. We are in the process of digitizing our curriculum. And we are using tech to enable us to deliver our curriculum in a much better way.
What innovations have you introduced in the last one year?
Innovation is the only constant at KKEL, our curriculum is always being innovated to incorporate best practices globally and advances in the neuroscience (which is what our curriculum is based on). Apart from that we are also in the process of digitizing our curriculum.
Where the next opportunity lies in K12 segment and how are you planning to tap it?
In K12 the next opportunity is going to be personalized learning where the students can learn what they want, whenever they want and however they want. This will ensure that the child can unleash his full potential and grow in the fields he/she is interested in right from schooling years.
How are you making the institute future-ready?
We are changing the infrastructure and facilities in all our schools to support the technological changes that we are bringing about. The new school however already has incorporated a lot of the infrastructure changes.