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Excellence Blueprints

From Class Room to Board Room

India’s answer to a new paradigm in higher education

The education business is expected to touch the US$ 50 billion mark by 2015. However, in the last ten years India has spent about US$ 100 billion of our very scarce foreign exchange on providing for higher education for parents sending their kids all over the world for quality education This works out to US$ 10 billion per annum (Source: Assocham Study). Or, about 500,000 students a year have been going every year for last few years to the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, NZ, Russia, China, Eastern Europe!

Why has this then been a decade of lost opportunity?

For three reasons.
One, If this amount was available for building our own educational ecosystem. We could have built at least 100 world class institutions and myriad more institutions for the long tail of vocational/academic/apprentice manpower demands!
Secondly, students from other parts of the world could also have come to earn their certificates/diplomas/degrees to these very Institutions and we in turn would earn precious foreign exchange! Instead of burning it!
Thirdly, these students who go aboard are not always available to India. Most work overseas, or join MNC companies and other private institutions in other Govt bodies, Private & Public R&D, Academics, Industry and Services. And the capital flight is even more pronounced as the IP, work, efforts, innovation, entrepreneurship of these companies then enrich other countries , and companies year on year! India is the net loser in this model Unfortunately, we have got stuck with this mindset.

How do we reverse this?

We have to start building our own education eco system from “School to Market” Or what I call as “Class Room- to- Board Room” value chain. There are three ways to immediately do this.
One, way to do so is to start young and identify such natural talent, instinct or innate talent very early on. May be around classes 10th class /12th class. This can be done by testing each child for his /her own natural talent through a Natural National Aptitude Test (NNAT), and then provide some avenue for them to fullfill that. There are about 100 vocational callings that provide the backbone for this need. From Plumbing to Art History, Fashion and Design. If you really examine the situation. The current education ecosystem is very biased towards STEM. 27 percent of people move towards Engineering, Law, Medicine, Armed Forces, and the balance 73 % are stuck looking for opportunities in Fashion, Humanities, Hospitality, Retail, Media, Lifestyle,etc. This is lop sided. While, the former category has a well laid system and career progression potential and systems. The latter a hotch potch of poorly regulated and ill-defined growth paths.
Secondly, By providing 24x7 counseling, talent profiling, one is able to tap into this latent demand and put in place a education market place connecting parents, teachers, students, coaching classes, consumer cos, apprenticeships, job giving companies, into a common open platform. In fact India needs 10 million apprentices in all vocations. This is a better way to employ idle manpower rather than spend US$ 10 billion a year on NREGA – where the assets or value created is dubious.
Thirdly, by institutionalizing a system of providing scholarships to deserving students to enter this ecosystem. Maybe a year on year 10,000 scholarships program, based on reaching out to over 10,000 schools in India, and identifying the top talented people and boarding them into the new education ecosystem. Once in, these scholarships will

  • see them thru college or vocational training of their choice at the top such institute
  • make available apprenticeships, internships/mentoring / entry and access to at top people, Companies and entities
  • give them the chance to find the best job, calling, passion and career to suit their ability and talent and
  • give the ability to track them and their progress thru such a ecosystem.
And thereby build a positive externality for the economy and country.

The Author

Probir Roy,
The author is Managing Trustee, of Institutional Excellence Forum