A Vision for Low-Cost Schools

Satya Narayanan R, chairman of Career Launcher India Ltd., has a new mission: to set up low-cost schools and provide accessible education.
Via livemint.com

“We have 40,000 schools in India with no children that come to school,” says Narayanan,…“Parents have chosen to take them out. Can you imagine what is happening?”

For Narayanan, who loves all things to do with education, training and leadership, the solution is simple: just give him the schools.

Career Launcher started moving into so-called mainline education—preschools, grade schools and business schools—a year ago. Now it hopes to turn its five schools into 250 over the next few years, and rewrite the education playbook along the way.

A big piece of that plan is to build on the national curriculum framework published by the government in 2005, which shifted the focus of Indian education from memorizing content to understanding it. Career Launcher’s schools, too, focus on social skills as much as academics, particularly at the junior grades.

Now that Career Launcher has a few successful schools off the ground, Narayanan hopes to do more than just scale up the existing model. At Indore and other similar schools, fees are about Rs40,000 a year and most parents are professionals. He also hopes to create a similar network of low-cost schools that can charge as little as Rs100-150 per month. How to do that, though, is still an open question.

The company started testing out a public-private partnership model in a set of vocational schools.

As Narayanan and other education reform advocates try to create a model for large-scale, low-cost private education, they float ideas such as running schools in two shifts, renting out the school’s infrastructure to community events, and bringing in corporate sponsors to provide things such as computers. The key, they agree, might also be in the government and its bulging inventory of unused educational infrastructure.

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Image Source: Pratham Books (Photography by Ryan Lobo)


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