BW Education's Top Education Brands In India 2017
Held in the heart of the capital, the day-long conference and awards brought together top industry veterans, policy makers and experts to discuss the pressing issues in building these brands and facilitating good practices in the education sector, including panel discussions, presentations, Q&A with the audience, fire side chats etc. around the theme, ‘Top Education Brands In India’
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Building an education brand is no child’s play. There lies a thin line between business for money and business for wealth, where the latter connotes the wealth of the nation.
The 2017 edition of BW Education’s ‘Top Education Brands In India’ initiative cum awards came as keeping with the company’s commitment to recognize the best practices and facilitate the endeavour of India’s ethical education led entities working each day towards building this wealth.
Held in the heart of the capital, the day-long conference and awards brought together top industry veterans, policy makers and experts to discuss the pressing issues in building these brands and facilitating good practices in the education sector, including panel discussions, presentations, Q&A with the audience, fire side chats etc. around the theme, ‘Top Education Brands In India’.
The award ceremony was a culmination of a comprehensive assessment and performance review of various key stake holders by an eminent jury, comprising of personalities known for their exemplary contribution to the sector. The jury comprised of Dr SS Mantha, Former Chairman, AICTE; Dr Shyama Chona, Padma Bhushan Awardee, Former Principal, DPS, RK Puram; Lata Vaidyanatan, Director, Teri Prakriti School and Former Principal, Modern School, Barakhamba and Billa Bhandari, COO, Geneva Graduate School of Governance.
The initiative came at a time when the country is witnessing a surge of ‘educational brands’ and franchise based schools as well as the group led educational institutions that have converted education into a much more commercialized space.
Opening the ceremony, Padma Bhushan awardee and former principal of DPS, RK Puram, Shayama Chona termed the private entrepreneurs as the ‘heroes’ of modern education in India. “The opportunity in the hands of private entrepreneurs, I would rather call them social entrepreneurs, has been limited. They are not able to take it to the level it should be. I applaud those entrepreneurs, as what could not be accomplished elsewhere is undertaken by the private sector,” said Chona.
Apart from making the Public Private Partnership model feasible in the education sector, Chona also pitched for fair accountability, especially of the ones rated at the top.
“There should be a criteria where no school can make it to the top until it is accountable and takes the responsibility- Social, legal, political. We need to justify our existence. We have a lot on our shoulders and until we justify that, we would always be criticized as money-making entities, which is not a fact,” mentioned Chona.
The opening panel comprising of industry stalwarts deliberated on what goes into building an education brand.
“If you are able to deliver on what you promise or deliver on what people expect you to, even though you did not promise, you make yourself a good brand,” said Anshul Pathak, Vice Chairman, DPSG Society, citing example of government run Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan which according to him is one of the better running institutions of government and has been able to deliver.
The motto of ‘promise to deliver’ was echoed by the panelists including Sreevats Jaipuria , Vice Chairman, Seth M R Jaipuria Group, Jagdish Gandhi , Founder , City Montessori School, Raghav Podar, Chairman, Podar Group Of Schools and Manjula Pooja Shroff , MD & CEO, Kalorex Group.
There lies a great challenge for the brands to bring innovation and much needed change in the way interactions take place inside the classroom, moving away from the traditional modes of education and focusing on overall growth.
Building a brand is not enough, there is a need for a course correction, literally!. In an another intersecting session, Dr Madhuri Parti, Director Academics, Lakshmipat Singhania Education Foundation, pointed out that “building a brand merely is not enough, but sustaining it is where the challenge truly lies.”
Dr Chona talked about the commercialization of education.
“Education is not an expense but an investment.” The Awardee also said that it has become more of a competition amongst parents these days, namely on the basis of which ‘brand’ their child attends, instead of analyzing educational faculty and other such standards.
Addressing a supremely crucial issue of maintaining excellence to sustain the brand, Vinesh Menon, CEO, Education, Consulting and Skilling Services, Vibhgyor Group said, “With 29 schools and 42,000 students, we realized that concrete processes and targeted disciplinary practices are required to maintain a set standard.”
Talking about the issue of course correction, Menon addressed basic problems like that of rote learning, data analytics and how reporting figures and diagnosis of such is necessary. Also, Menon clarified that it is tough to sustain a brand in the market without profits.
Dr Chona as well as Dr Parti agreed and pointed out that privatization in this space should not be looked down upon, rather something that should be welcomed. “It is not a sinful word, nor a crime”, said Dr Chona, while talking about profits in the sphere of education.
As technology is making a headway in almost all sectors of the market in the country, including education, a panel discussion on how technology is transforming the status quo of education was carried out.
So much so, that today a huge debate has cropped between the providers of technology or the ed-tech companies and the takers of technology, namely schools and institutions.
“I see technology still at the periphery of our education system. We have large numbers of ed-tech companies and IT enablers. We have a huge supply and demand and understanding that this marriage of technology and education would be perfect, but somehow at the ground level it’s a forced relation,” said Anmol Arora, MD, Shemrock Group. Arora did not mince his words in talking about the validation of Ed-technology in the schools. He raised the issues of constrained time and burden, as teachers have the core responsibility of preparing students for the standardised examinations and overall leanings. There is no time, according to him to experiment and play around with new tools of Winners of BW Education’s Top Education Brands in India 2017 AR or VR.
On the contrary, Hemant Sahal, Founder & CEO, CollPoll said the reason technology has not been able to integrate into the education space is because of limited understanding of technology investment benefits.
The panel comprising of Rupa Manjari Ghosh, VC, Shiv Nadar University; Dr Raj Singh, VC, Rayat Bahra University; Dr SK Salwan, VC, Apeejay Stya University and Himanshu Chaturvedi, CMD, HTC Sports, elaborated on a host of technology-driven solutions for the education sector.
Education could be a lucrative business to put money in. However, it comes with a huge responsibility. Speaking purely from the point of business, another panel discussion on education brand investment with eminent panelists like Billa Bhandari, CEO Geneva School of Public Policy and Governance, Neeraj Sharma, CEO, Indian School Finance Corporation, Bobby Bhatia, CEO and Co-Founder, TrakInvest and Dilip Puri, Founder and CEO, Indian School of Hospitality.
Sharma talked about the Return in Investments and how it depends on various factors, to begin with. “It is a lucrative business but returns highly depend on your selection. I would invest in infrastructure and then fund technology,” said Sharma.
Puri opinionated the need to give prominence to life-skills in higher level education.
“Business of education is important because a school or an institution performing well financially would only be able to pay its teachers and other staff members well. And only then it would become easier to introduce technology-based enablers and other devices to improve the education quality in India,” said Puri.
Is education a case of ethics vs business? How should education be then perceived in the country?
“Education is not a profession, it is a passion,” elaborated Kunwar Shekhar Vijendra, Chancellor, Shobhit University saying how business in education is not carried out for profit but that dilemma needs to be removed.
Dr. S.S. Mantha, Former Chairman, All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) further clarified that the constitutional position holds education as ‘not for profit’, rather imparting knowledge. The former chairman further added that knowledge and making money do not go hand in hand, thus people need to come together to self- regulate.
Another issue that was critically discussed during this session was about elitism in higher education in our country.
“In India, we are reproducing elitism in the sphere of higher education specifically, which is clearly leading in creating a greater gap between the levels of universities like IITs, JNU and other state universities which is much lower,” said Professor Kamal Mitra Chenoy, JNU.
He further emphasized, “We must have a more adequate and an egalitarian educational system so that each individual has a better chance at a decent education which is currently not the state.” Finally, no amount of education is sufficient, if not endowed with the right set of skills. Manish Kumar, CEO, National Skill Development Centre (NSDC) mentioned how skilling needs to begun at school-level as both skills and academics co-exist with far superior outcomes.
Elaborating he said that times have changed and the new generation thinks very differently about jobs, thus even we should strive to make a difference in the way people think.
Speaking about the skilling challenge, Kumar said that they work in 40 different sectors of the economy using about 12 thousand trainee partners in a public-private partnership mode (profit and non-profit both).
“We ensure that about 4 million people are skilled every year. However, around 1 million people come into the workforce every month, thus indicating an enormous improvement still to be made,” added Kumar.
Having analyzed and discussed about the various issues aligning the education sector in the country with a special emphasis on today’s ‘educational brands’, the conference concluded with facilitating the winners spanning across various education categories including best Pre- school franchise brands, K-12 franchise brands, K-12 school of the year and other higher education group awards.
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