Do you think education is going to be business in India?

Answer by Rajsi Rana:

Going to be? Oh you have no idea dear sir. Education is already a business and a booming one at that. The market is absolutely huge considering the Indian middle class is willing to pay like crazy when it comes to education, the investment can be something as little as a few thousands and can go upto varying degrees of millions.

Someone very rightly once put it:

There are only two recession free industries in India-One is education, and the other, marriage.

Let's me take a minute to futher the point that I'm trying to put out here.

  • How does it all start?

School Admissions, of course.

Having a kid is probably a lesser worry to most parents than finding a suitable school (and subsequently college) for their pretty little ones. This starts as soon as the kid reaches a tender age of about three years and is whisked away to 'preparatory' schools like Mother's Pride, Euro Kids etc where parents pay huge amounts to let their fussy tiny tots play for three to four hours.

An advertisement by Mother's Pride. Notice how subtly they try to play with the emotions of parents, accentuated by strong advertising. Business, much?

Some offer additional facilities such as free lunch (with a different menu every day of the week) or free bags and 'institute approved' books.

Apparently, the concept of free is a little umm, hazy. And the concept of 'institute approved' books? Wasn't that ABC… I didn't know people needed approval in there.

And when we're talking about business, these people have devised a new way to extract money: Lame expenses. I have a cousin, who used to attend a preparatory school two years back. This school regularly asked parents to fork out money for things such as 'Reebok Sports Kits' and 'Puma Kids' Swimwear.' (Let me make it clear that they weren't used, ever.)

Buying them was compulsory. Now pardon me, but I do not seem to understand how or why a three year old needs a sports kit. (Reebok, no less.)

Another publicity stunt used to be having their school functions in places like Adventure Island (where each ticket costs upwards of INR 400 if I remember correctly.) Now imagine your tiny tot is performing in that event. Obviously, you'd go, not wanting to disappoint him. But he doesn't want just you. He needs his grandparents to be there too. And how can you refuse?
Blown shitloads of money just to see a function, that could've taken place in an auditorium.

Smart maneuver much?

  • So after the playschool saga comes the school saga.

Agreed, there are many good schools in the country. But if you think getting admissions to those is going to be easy, you'll have a bad time.

Good schools in Delhi, as put by The Hindustan Times. Clearly they are more than banking on their success.

The recently introduced point system for admission to schools takes into account some factors and allots points for each factor like whether the parents are an alumni of the institution, whether the child has a sibling in the same school etc. Suppose you have neither siblings nor alumni parents. Two options here, take admission in some (not so good) school, or with the genie lamp comes the Management Quota.

Dish out some money, and we take your kid. Seems cute? Wait till you hear me out.

And this money can really go to outrageous levels. I remember reading a case sometime back in the newspaper when schools were admitting children based on this donation: Buy us a bus. Worth rupees 70 lacs (I am assuming this cost) to get into a school.

Stupid? Very. Business? Hell yes.

  • Tuitions

The fastest growing (and the stupidest) trend in India these days. You can do this with almost no capital. Just put up a board outside your house that says: HOME TUITIONS and you're guaranteed to have a flock of students outside your doorstep the next day. Profit guarantee and absolutely huge market, this is a win win.

Some parents feel that school is not enough for their children. Lo and behold comes the genie with a magic lamp which when rubbed generates these magical letters: TUITIONS. Wow, you say. Now your kid will perform his best. He goes to school for six hours a day? Good, now add two hours of tuition. Brilliant. 1/3rd of his day will go by in classrooms. What a way to spend childhood.

No, making posters is not quite their forte.

While I will agree that at some point (maybe class X onwards) tuitions are helpful and often do become necessary (in some cases), I have to say it breaks my heart when I see kids in third grade in my neighborhood donning heavy bags and moving to tuitions in the evening after coming from school.

What is important to understand is that more often than not, the advantages of self study are undermined. But this is not the place to talk about this, so let's move on.

  • IIT-JEE Coaching/Medical Coaching/CA Coaching/BBS Coaching/Law Coaching

No I am not selling fruits, although if you say it out loud, it might just seem that way. If tuitions are expensive, these suck money. A notch higher than tuitions, and honestly pretty bad.

I will not elaborate on this here, because I feel Raziman Thottungal Valapu's answer to IIT JEE (Joint Entrance Examination): Why are IIT-JEE coaching classes criticized so much? addresses the exact issue at hand, and anything I add will just be repetitive.

Trust me, a student attending these coaching classes looks nowhere near as remotely happy as the kid in the picture.

  • College Education

The private sector in education is blooming. Absolutely blooming. (Although I cannot say for the better or for worse.)

Couldn't clear any prestigious engineering entrance examinations?

Nevermind, come study with us, we shall make you an engineer. Or a management professional.

How cute is that?

There are THOUSANDS of private colleges owned by big companies and leading business houses offering any and every course you can imagine, from animation to VFX to nursing or even biochemistry. You want it? You can have it. But as the cliche goes, not without money.

(Note: I have no idea as to the quality of these programmes, if someone who has experienced them firsthand could add his views on the said subject, that would be great.)

You can also have a look at the ongoing debate about IIPM on Quora to know what I mean.

These colleges are outright funny. One advertises having a hair salon in its campus as the main reason to study in there. Because come on, that is the legit reason to study in a college, afterall you never know when you might need an emergency haircut.

A few days back, I got a text message which went something like:

Buy two tickets to Yeh Jawaani hai Deewani from PVR Cinemas and get a free seat in XXXXX College of Engineering.

I am not kidding, this is absolutely true! Seems legit? Not quite because they don't mention the atrocious fees you will be paying. Although now that I think about it, a college admission free with movie tickets does seem pretty cool.

So coming back to your orignal question: Education is already a big business industry in India, and it is thriving, to say the least. It will only grow in the years to come.

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