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May, 09 2011

DRIVING GLOBAL GROWTH

India is one of the largest markets for education in terms of number of students. Of this, informal and supplementary education has the lion's share. And about the business potential, there will be 270 million students by 2020, requiring schools, teachers

INDIA has the world's largest youth population. This fact alone makes education business the most sought-after. Being an education-driven nation, supplementary education segment across India has witnessed phenomenal development across the years through the steady ingress in the number of international brands and rise in the number of domestic players.

Prospects of global brands in India

Talking about the prospects of global players in the emerging supplementary educational segment, Nancy Faunce, President and CEO, FasTracKids International, says, “Many of our franchisees in India were looking for a unique offering for children and found FasTracKids either at franchising exhibits or on the FTK website. In 2009, FasTracKids renewed its marketing efforts in India and have doubled the number of franchisees and tripled the number of children attending FasTracKids programmes.”

The rising number of international brands in the Indian education market has made the industry more organised. Several global brands like Helen O'Grady International, UCMAS, IMA, Aloha India, FasTracKids, Crestcom International, Mad Science, etc have carved their niche on the Indian soil.

Explaining the steady trickle of global brands in this segment, Arpita Mittal, CEO, Helen O' Grady International, informs, “India is being seen as the next big destination and education is the sunshine industry of the future. Hence, a number of international companies are showing interest in coming to India. Besides, growing awareness towards the need for supplementary educational programmes and supportive government policies are a big enabler.”

The vast and diverse Indian educational diaspora has been an inspiration for several global players. “Parents in India place high value on quality early childhood education, seeing it as a way to give their children the best start for a successful future,” states Faunce.

But what drove these entrepreneurs to introduce an international concept in the supplementary segment in India? Says S.B. Krishna, Managing Director, IMA Mental Arithmetic Academy, “I have always been thinking of providing some new and innovative methods of learning to children. That's when I heard about Abacus and Mental Arithmetic, which was doing good in the Asia pacific. So, I started meeting various companies and finally zeroed in on IMA, which stands tall with its high ranking affiliations and having the original curriculum in brain development.”

Adjustments & achievements

After finalising the segment and the brand, introducing the concept, which has been a success in the west, in India demanded customisation, given the vastness and diversity in the Indian education system.

Mittal explains, “On the operational side, we have made some adjustments to suit our country. In our content, with our headquarters approval, we added certain specific segments, which are required for children who are learning English as a second language. Some of the production plays are also adapted from our vast cultural heritage for our stage performances.”

According to Krishna, “In India, we had to modify the course structure in consultation with our principle company to suit our children's learning ability, as over here, children are fully loaded with more activities, unlike Europe and Asia Pacific.”

While supplementary education principally forms the backbone of the educational system in the West, in India, the scenario is picking up pace now. Comparing the Indian scenario with the West, Faunce elaborates, “While parents around the world want the best future for their children, parents in India seem to be more proactive in ensuring that future. The supplementary education market reflects that in the number of offerings.”

Franchise boost for brands

Global brands that expanded in India are witnessing tremendous success, especially the ones that entered through franchising. These brands are now seeking expansion in tier II and III cities.

Highlighting the growth of the brand, Basheer Ahamed, Chairman and Managing Director, UCMAS (India) Pvt. Ltd, says, “Since 1999, the company has been franchising the business opportunity and today, there are 2,400 centres and more than 6 lakh student enrolments with 6,000 course instructors, who took training for imparting the education. UCMAS is present in India in 26 states and 42 countries across the world.”

As per Faunce, “FasTracKids has 22 franchisees in India. Our 2011 focus is to continue to build our presence in standalone Enrichment Centres and partner with existing schools in existing cities as well as expand into new cities.”

Helen O' Grady has 32 franchisees with each franchisee operating around 5-10 centres. The brand is all set to add 15-20 franchisees in 2011, taking the number to 500 centres across various cities of India.

Box1

Point-by-Point

Brands to watch for

FasTracKids

…has doubled the number of franchisees since 2009, and tripled the number of children attending programmes.

…has over 340 franchisees in over 45 countries, with 22 in India.

Helen O' Grady

…has 32 franchisees, and expects to add 15-20 more in 2011, taking the total number to 500.

UCMAS (India) Pvt. Ltd

…has grown to 2,400 centres since 1999.

…has more than 6 lakh student enrolments with 6,000 course instructors.

… is present in 26 states in India and 42 countries across the world.

Box2

What works in West, not India

Helen O' Grady International

…added some specific segments to content, required for children learning English as second language. Adapted production plays from Indian cultural heritage.

IMA Mental Arithmetic Academy

…modified course structure to suit Indian children's learning ability.

…adjusted fee structure to suit the large Indian middle class.

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