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Feb, 02 2017

NURTURING & EMPOWERING THE FOUNDERS OF THE FUTURE

Alphakids International believes children need to be equipped with strong thinking skills in order to adapt in a world where change is the only constant

The learning methods in preschools have been evolving over the years, recognizing the need of grooming children at the two to six years of age. The change in teaching also underscores the fact that preschools are evolving from mere playgroups to schools that are defining a child’s cognitive and intellectual capabilities. In an effort to bring a paradigm shiftin the education system, Alphakids Learning Centres (ALC) has one of the best well-reputed investors and educationists. Alphakids International preschools are one of the most renowned and reputed preschool chains in India and have been ranked amongst the top five by Education World in its latest survey.

The brand was launched eight years ago, when the market was growing but unregulated. ALC is an umbrella organization that has two major divisions -- Alphakids International preschools and Bellwether International high schools.

THE FIRST CHOICE

The brand follows the ‘Quality in Implementation’ mantra. Both Alphakids International preschool and Bellwether International High School curricula are benchmarked with international standards, and deliver best practices with the support of its own proprietary pedagogy ‘Asteria’, which focuses on equipping children with Thinking from the Mind, Heart and Soul. The emphasis is on the Intellectual Quotient, Emotional Quotient, and the Spiritual Quotient leading children to grow into successful, happy and responsible global citizens. The curriculum framework has a holistic approach towards development and has been benchmarked with best practices from the UK.

They are frontrunners in using Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality learning for their curriculum delivery. The purpose is purely to engage and prepare children for the future that is technology driven.

BUILDING A LARGER BASE VIA FRANCHISE

The brand realized the need of sharing their knowledge and support with others to replicate and build a larger base of Alphakids learners, when they witnessed the impact of the teaching/learning processes on the children moving out of Alphakids Preschools, and being welcomed within the reputed high schools in the vicinity. When asked about the practices and strategies for the school’s growth, Avantika Goenka, Director, Alphakids International Preschool, says: “We are evolving rapidly, based on thorough research and market demand. We can now confidently say that our education system is tried and tested. With urbanization and connectivity rise, the market is going forward and extending to tier-III & IV cities too. There is a lot of scope to scale up using the franchise route to meet the demands of the growing market.”

The brand focuses on quality and not quantity. They follow the asset light model, which allows them a rapid growth, without huge investment. Franchising has enabled them in focusing on curriculum development, teacher training, creating operational SOPs and standards of excellence for schools.

BEST SUPPORT TO PARTNERS

ALC has recently started giving franchisees of Alphakids International preschool and are getting a remarkable response. The upcoming centers are going to be in Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Kolhapur, and in and around Mumbai.

According to a research by Dun & Bradstreet, about 90 per cent of business failures can be traced to poor management resulting from lack of knowledge. Holding up to the same, Alphakids not only share the brand image, but also their knowledge, experience, and technical expertise. So, rather than re-inventing the wheel, the potential franchisee can rely on the tested methods.

Unlike other kinds of franchising, franchising in education is different. There are many layers – the child, the cultural context, the teacher with her experience, the parent expectation and it varies from place to place. Deepa Bhushan, V-P Education, Alphakids International, says: “At ALC, we support the franchisees in customizing their context and ensuring an effective transfer of technical know-how. Partnering with us will provide access to a superior curriculum, training programmes and operational systems, and also help the franchisees in their reach and attract more parents towards the schools. We believe the franchisees are our business partners – we work together and win together. We have a strong and rigorous training and audit programme for our partners too.”

At ALC, the franchisees will receive 360 degree support – right from operations, marketing, curriculum with their proprietary pedagogy ‘Asteria’, training and audits. Their strong ERP system and mobile apps ensure efficient and effective operations and communication among all the stakeholders.

THE RIGHT MIX

Currently, Alphakids has three centres operational in Mumbai and 17 more are in the pipeline. For partnering with the brand, the potential investor must be a committed entrepreneur driven by the 3 Ps -- Passion, Purpose and Profit. Passion to improve lives, Purpose to educate, Profit to ensure quality implementation. The brand is reasonably selective in signing their business partners.

In the next five years, they are planning 200-plus Alphakids preschools and daycare centres, and 30-plus Bellwether International High Schools. They are looking at Asteria being a way of life for at least 10,000 children and 20,000 parents.

Q&A

EDUCATE TO GROW

Avantika Goenka, Director, Alphakids on the intricacies & growth of the education system in India

There is no regulatory body for preschools, what major challenges the brands are facing in India?

Due to the absence of regulatory bodies, there is a huge challenge in bringing standardized, high quality delivery in the education, retention of quality teachers (due to low wages and lack of qualifications), safety of children and hygiene in learning centers. Regulatory bodies lay policies and procedures to help, guide and monitor the actions of all individuals involved in any business, or service. When policies and procedures are well thought out and implemented properly, then the quality levels will rise. Most organized brands set up policies and procedures to ensure the challenges faced by preschools are minimized.

Has demonetization affected the education industry?

We welcome the move completely. It will help schools streamline the fees and bring Class IV employees onto the digital platform. Overall demonetization has brought transparency in the education space, and it will benefit the industry.

What are the focus areas of Bellwether International?

ALC is also launching an international standard K-12 school brand known as Bellwether International High School. Bellwether International will be the first-of-its-kind in the international schooling space, focusing on building children’s thinking skills through the mind, body and soul, enabling them to adapt to a futuristic environment. We will be offering IGCSE/ICSE/CBSE board with our ‘Asteria’ pedagogy, where the focus, along with the board curriculum, would be on financial literacy, health literacy, tech literacy and global literacy through higher order skills such as communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking

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