Insights

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Learnmile Learnmile is a unique Education focused Research + Advisory outfit
driven to achieve Client goals & improve last-mile performance. It’s driven to empower a positive shift in Education, through incisive Research & Result focused Advisory. +read more

In Appearance

educastThe Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) is pretty low at around 13.60% between the age group 18-24 years. Vocational Education (VE) is perhaps the answer to skill youth, keep unemployment under check while we are trying to grow on GER. But the problem is existing skill development capacity is seemingly not sufficient to handle this pressure of Skill development. It is laudable here to note that finance minister's generous plan for attracting youth to TVET by paying out incentive of INR 10,000/- is a move in right direction but no matter how noble our intention is, if we lack the collaborative approach of including all the stake holders in the plan, it may not yield desired results.

This article suggests some key Strategic intervention that is required at various levels and with all stakeholders to overcome challenges mentioned earlier. These interventions cannot act in isolation and have to be injected at all levels. This article propagates 3 level of intervention among multiple stakeholders right from schools, colleges, government, corporate and skill development / facilitation agency.

One Nation One test: IIT entrance exam

While the thought of having a larger CET framework is fine, the purpose & current preparation perhaps needs to be re-looked in more detail rather than creating a weaker copy of SAT in a hurry.

There is a high need to assess the usefulness of moving to this framework specifically in line with our education framework. Lookup & please just re-read the highlighted words in Italics mentioned in the above note. Learnmile recommends :

  1. Validate before applying: MHRD may begin by conducting a study (research) with a goal to find thecorrelation between a student's rank (percentile) in JEE& the success achieved by him/her in college; similarly find the correlation with the student's XII rank (percentile) &his/her success at college.
  2. Autonomous body:The body conducting the entrance could be autonomous &“not for profit”.
  3. Flexibility:There is perhaps a merit in giving a choice. US has both SAT & ACT with a shared goal butneither are restrictive in nature & give the flexibility to the institution to identify the fitting test. Also, some of the Institutes follow none.
  4. Exceptional beyond boundaries:There can be a scope to identify exceptional talent not limited to acertain age through this entrance. It would then retain the basic principle of “Exceptional is independent of boundaries”.
  5. Independent Cell for excellence: MHRD should encourage independent bodies & support them byproviding the needed infrastructure to recognize and harness exceptional talent. Moreover, let them be autonomous.
  6. Preparation with a clarity of goal:Most importantly, don't be in a hurry to implement the CET, give ittime, back it by research, find reasons for improvement, start with a clear purpose; perhaps the purpose could be to assess the readiness of students to join college.
  7. Retain the goodness:Lastly, give the choice to the institution, especially if it has a proven record forgrooming exceptional talent, to either follow the CET or have a separate mechanism to identify &assess exceptional talent. After all, they must be doing some things right to be grooming exceptional talent


Parent’s choice of schools: syndicate study

School Admission has been a top concern among parents for quite sometime now & it doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. In such times, when there are so many new schools coming up, perhaps this supply-demand equation will evolve differently. Learnmile conducted a study to get insights into this decision making process, factors parents look at while choosing a school, moreover while rejecting a school for their child. This study was done across Delhi NCR for over 360 parents of children between 2-11 years old. This one of a kind study covers more than 25% of “both parents working” group as well as about 20% of Parents who are in senior corporate jobs in high income brackets, making the study a good mix of parent profile.

The study unearths some unusual revelations about how parents assess various factors & what influences there final decision making. Exhibit 1.1 shows the diverse trends emerging from various locations within Delhi NCR. Fees being a constant top scorer, a higher degree of importance was attached by parents who have been witnessing regular increase in fees from their child’s school every year. Gurgaon Parents attach the highest importance to the board type along with bad word about the school among collegues&friendswhile choosing or rejecting a school, whereas Noida Parents attach high importance to previous results & bad word of mouth among their friends & family. This school-parents focused study carries detailed insights about why do parents reject a school;& what triggers this rejection at the first place.
Exhibit 1.1 Decision making for parents while looking at a school


Solutions Design in Education

“No consumer ever buys a product. Consumers buy what products provide.” – Peter Drucker
The unique feature of an Education Solution (ES) is that it is an experience-based product/service with an expectedoutcome delivered over the learning span of consumer. Thelearner's experience of an education solution is a sum totalof different exposures to product delivery, space, service,material, communication & supporting infrastructure. It is a
high touch point area for an educational organization when compared to any other product or service. With everytouch point there is a major risk of service spillage.

Rightfrom counseling to final certification to relationshipmaintenance, an educational institute faces a complex and challenging task of creating a positive consumerperception.
This is where I think it becomes mission critical for an educational institute or an educational company to take a research-based approach leading to solution design (products & services) both from an IPR & effectivenessviewpoint.

3 tenets of the Education solution Design (ESD)

1. Create ES with unique features
When designing a new ES or changing it, education outfits need to think about all interfaces that become touch point for learners. Right from a collateral to marketing communication, web portals, each of these act as a serviceinterface and create a experience and perception about the solution. For example changing payment methodfrom over the counter to online may not impact the ES directly but it is certainly a change in the delivery of service for that product. With an educational solution, trust is a high priority component and is to be taken care through all the interfaces between learner/consumer and Education entity.

2. ESD is continuous and interactive
More so in the recent years it is imperative for educational institutes to continuously change and redesign their solutions (products & services). Right from pre schools to test preps to private universities, we would find manyexamples where education service providers has altered and innovated their offerings. We are now witnessing ESwith higher order result orientation compared to the past, it is primarily because of high awareness among the consumer, moreover a result seeking behavior is now an integral part to the active delivery of the product.

3. ESD should represent customer's perspective
The need for innovation and new products is very high compared to yester years. An understanding of the motivations, goals and need of the consumer is indispensable to EPD. What was relevant earlier may not hold truetoday. For e.g. Education institutes went with an Institute centered approach for providing solutions and coursesto the students earlier, but just like any other services organization, it is now important for Educational Institutes to focus on consumers need for learning and outcome driven from a consumer centric approach while going for ESD.As rudimentary products with nearly no value add are making a way out, it is important that ESD takes the learner(or the parent) at centre stage and adopts a research & development focused approach to solution design &development.
Products & services churned out of such an approach will not only create value for its consumersbut also address the need of this new century.
“You can't experience the experience until you experience it.” - Bill Moggridge, founder of IDEO


Repositioning of an Education Brand


A National Education Franchisee Brand with a discounted tagwas struggling financially till ’07-’08. An in depth study spread over 45 days culminated to a Restructuring Strategy. What started with a straight approach of repositioning the Brand, eventually turned out to a complete Business Restructuring Exercise. An incisive consumer research led to key Consumerinsightsbringing out the need to shift from a symbolic discounted Brand to a symbiotic Value-Adding Brand for the Customer.This was not it, as we realized that this would hold true only after Re-defining the entire Business Operations from the scratch, Remodeling of Franchiser & Franchisee Business Models, & most importantly, the Strategy Blueprint with a medium termhorizon.The approach eventually helped in the complete transformation of the Business intoone of the most successful Preschool Brandriding on consumer preference.


Scaling up Business


insightsThe key challenge for this National Education Service Provider to Schools was to simplify the product & to reach out to more schools looking to improve either Admissions &/or Academic Performance. The same was achieved through a 360* Strategic Marketing roadmap built on strong Consumer Insights, Analytics, Brand Equity Framework, Product modification, 24X7 Customer care cell, online campaign& “pull” advertising. The above was achieved through a completely new & built right from the scratch Marketing team in a record time span of five months. All this came together only after some key interventions;


  • Clear Core Target Group definition detailed till last level; this emerged after pushing all the key stakeholders to make some tough choices, further validated in the Client’s existing customers
  • Identification of Key insights & testing a battery on some Core Target Group so as to narrow down on one
  • Simplification of Positioning & reason to believe, further reinforced in the complete communication plan

 

Education Equation


insightsThe total national budget for education is $ 10 bn, the current literacy in India is 74%, 27% of the Indian children go to Private schools which have an above average physical Infrastructure, India's education system is the third largest just behind US & China.And then one GLARING, hard-hitting number, India's ranked 134 in the Human Development Index. Even Bahrain, Qatar, Croatia are much ahead of India. Srilanka is ranked 97. These scores are for 187 countries worldwide & needless to say, India figures in the last 60 countries.

While we look for solutions, we met some key stakeholders including parents who make some tough decisions almost every day for their child. A working mother is always running against the clock to do her bit so that her child gets all she wants to excel in what she chooses to. Some excerpts from a conversation with a dedicated mother….
"I never feel stretched with my work, because at the end i know i'm doing it for the betterment of my family."

"The last time i felt sad was when i could not afford to send my child for the international school league camp on animation. It was expensive and we could not afford it."
"Neither me nor my husband hold our hands back when it comes to developmental needs and resources for our child. But then, everything is changing so rapidly, i wonder, how would things be by the time our child reaches college. Will we be able to afford a good standard of living & a good college for her. That is why, we decided to have no more children, we want to give our best to her." One of our recent forums involving Teachers, another key stakeholder, grabbed this mention, "I wish for a day when good education will be accountable to the child more than to the money paid."