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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unexpected disruptions in the education system. Partnership with aspiring edupreneurs can assist in nation building by creating qualified human capital says, ANIRBAN BHATTACHARYA

India has one of the largest education systems in the world, with its robust strength of 1.5 million schools catering to 250 million students which are estimated to increase to 300 million by 2030, as per the latest figures by FICCI. This projected demand and the accompanying transformation in education can be met and achieved through the school franchising model.

School franchising, simply defined, is the model in which a reputed school brand enters into a partnership with aspiring edupreneurs or budding schools to expand the reach of education, to build up the brand, and also assist in nation-building by creating qualified human capital. Like any business venture, it has its share of risks and opportunities. These risks and benefits can be best understood by studying the franchise model, researching the market, and doing due diligence on the ground.

Starting a franchise school in India under a brand name requires the fulfillment of certain imperatives. There are stipulations pertaining to land acreage, initial investments, total investments, and other contractual nitty gritty that the franchiser and the franchisee can mutually agree upon. The level of risk in this business model depends a lot on the probity and long-term commitment of the franchiser and franchisee. Unrealistic expectations regarding capex, opex recovery and breakeven period can jeopardize the partnership. Market upheavals     — such as the one triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic — can cause unexpected disruptions in the education system. Likewise, a sudden spurt in competition may require a realignment of the projected growth targets and capital recovery. But by and large, the benefits of school franchising far outweigh the risks.

Opportunities and benefits of school franchising

A great part of transforming the education landscape of India involves materializing the aspirations of the investors who want to start a new school but don’t possess the knowledge or expertise for a successful launch, smooth operations, for achieving academic rigor, and meeting profitability targets at the same time.

It is a successful business model for aspiring edupreneurs

A franchisor with an established brand, reputation, and legacy in the field of education brings along a host of benefits that include 360-degree support to the franchisee – from the construction of the building and school launch to its periodic growth over the years. This support usually includes:

  • Design oversight and architectural support
  • Financial projection and school planning
  • Identifying and recruiting high-quality human resources
  • Marketing, branding, and communication
  • Curriculum design and implementation
  • Sharing detailed process manual
  • IT and auxiliary support
  • Quality check, audit, and review process
  • Regular training and upskilling of teachers
  • Assistance in CBSE affiliation

It is a means to meet literacy targets and achieve universal education

Just a cursory look at India’s literacy rates gives us the magnitude of the task that is cut out for the education sector in the years and decades ahead. The country’s literacy rate stands at 74 percent presently (compared to the global 86.3%). The female literacy rate of 64 percent paints a still dismal picture. Given the number of new dropouts during the pandemic and the declining financial ability of the poor section of the population to afford school education due to income loss, the education sector has to do a lot in terms of increasing the scale, affordability, and accessibility of quality education. School franchising addresses all these areas in the following ways:

  • It takes education to the remote parts of the country and makes it accessible to all
  • Association with a reputed brand brings quality to the education delivered in the school
  • The franchise model effectively ends up cutting down the costs for the franchisee and thereby mitigates the risk of running into losses. The benefit eventually passes down to the end-user in terms of better affordability

Future of Indian Education – School Franchising To Drive The Growth

FICCI’s Envisioning India 2030 report states that India’s education system, despite all the growth in 75 years, remains inadequate in terms of physical resources and human resources. There is a need to enhance the scale and capacity if the country is to capitalize on its population dividend. Instances of poor infrastructure, teacher absenteeism, inadequate quality checks, low teacher-student ratio, and poor learning outcomes are observed in government schools in tier 2 and tier 3 cities where private capital still hasn’t made inroads.

The school franchise model brings in the adherence to quality that can, at times, even match the global standards of education. Top education brands are introducing new pedagogical practices like Design Thinking, Social Emotional Learning, Computational Thinking, Media Literacy, Digital Literacy, and Finance Literacy in the curriculum of their partner schools.

These initiatives are fully aligned with the vision of the National Education Policy 2020 which will be instrumental in shaping the future of Indian education in the decades to come.