Array Learning into Young Minds
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Array Learning into Young Minds

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With the urban space in the metros giving away opportunities to many in terms of vocation, business venture, nowadays, it is also seen drooling to the tunes of providing pre-schooling to those toddlers whose parents believe in instilling learning at an early stage. The prospect of the segment and the nuances of it in the education sector has been observed, chalked and reviewed by some of the experts in the industry, explores Bhawna Satsangi and Jessy Iype of Elets News Network (ENN)

Cover Story Array LearningPre-school, a child’s introduction to the world of knowledge plays a vital role in developing his future. Parents, being the guardians want the best for their wards and look out for a top pre-school, where they feel confident to send their kid to kick-start his learning.

Pre-schools that offer facilities and an interactive educator often set the stage for a child’s love of learning. So, pre-schools that generate feeling of confidence among the parents are often regarded as the best, which prepare the toddlers for quality learning in primary education.

“Pre-school educator/facilitator and environment plays a significant role in a child’s first step to learning, which has a lifelong influence on the child’s future. Indeed, it is not an easy task to run a pre-school, considering the responsi – bility to educate young minds. Maple Bear believes that when children enter school, they regard learning as a pleasurable experience. Therefore, they are naturally inclined towards it and have an eagerness to learn. It is important for us that the programmes are reinforced and built on this positive attitude and to offer varied stimulating and enjoyable experiences to children,” says Hazel Siromoni, Managing Director, Maple Bear India.

“The specific objective of pre-primary education is to provide all necessary care and education to young children for their development through physical, cognitive, linguistic, social and emotional growth. Pre-school is the time to develop the skills to prepare the students for for – mal education in class I. Students are provided opportunities to develop gross and fine motor skills, creativity, and social skills in a fun filled ambience which is conducive to learning,” remarked Ratna D. Reddy, Founder Director, CHIREC.

Hence, a strong pre-school programme is the solid foundation on which a good education is laid and it is essential for a good schooling.

Coverstory Array Learning 3To quantify the burgeoning demand of the pre-school franchise, education franchise is overhauling with as many as public and private companies. Education sector being the fertile area of investment in India, the companies are keen on in – vesting in the pre-school franchise busi – ness because India is expected to have a sur plus of 47 million people in the work – ing age group by 2020. There is a huge demand seen in the for mal and informal education sector in the years to come.

Pre-school franchise is a booming business in India and parents too are willingly spending money to give the best of knowledge to their children. The segment is opening up plethora of opportunities for the pre-school franchise players which has turned out to be a wise business decision for them.

This also welcomes new educational concepts in the Indian market that be – come popular through franchising. However, the sector is still unorganised, due to the reason of lack of quality edu – cation. The pre-school industry is under – penetrated and is less than 4 per cent of the total market potential as compared to the western world.

Cover Story Array Learning 2The studies have shown that the business of pre-schools is huge in India but it lacked standardised curriculum, quality and infrastructure. The domestic market is profitable and there is a major quality gap, therefore a huge scope exists in this business. The business is set to be low on investment and high on returns, with a break-even period within the first two years of operations.

With increasing nuclear families and working parents, pre-school day-care is a growing sector. Organised day-care activities with well planned schedules and operations with viewing facilities for parents is a unique feature that is being provided by the pre-schools.

Surging upwards: The Indian Education Investment Report 2013, estimates that the number of pre- schools in India will reach the 33,000 mark by 2015 end, reporting a growth of 26 per cent annually

Diverse Dynamics

Coverstory Array Learning 5Pre-school market in India had tremen – dous growth in recent past and the fu – ture also seems productive. India being the second largest populated country in the world and with the highest number of youngsters makes it one of the potential markets for pre-school “Rise in disposable income, increasing working couples, working mothers, nuclear families, escalating demand for high quality pre-school education for toddlers are other several reasons which are raising the demand for pre-schools,” feels Dharmesh Kapasi, President, Shanti Juniors

According to the Crisil research report, the pre-school business is expected to touch Rs 13,300 crore b y 2015-16, out of which branded pre-schools are expected to contribute about Rs 4,500 crore.

16According to an estimate, this unorganised sector comprising of neighbor – hood pre-schools captures almost 75 per cent of the total market share. It is observed that the parents are inclined more towards the branded playschool for their child which is one of the major rea – sons for the rise in number of play school franchise in India.

The current industry size of the non- formal education system is ` 66.4 bil – lion, as per Crisil report. They cater to children aged 1-6 and offer play group, nursery, junior kindergarten and senior kindergarten classes. According to glob – al markets research Elara Capital, rising penetration rate, growing urbanisation and shift from fragmented unorganised sector to organised is expected to grow the pre-school market at a 26 per cent CAGR of over FY-13-18 to INR 13.2bn currently. Country’s total students catered by the organised pre-schools are set to reach 1.02 million from 0.35 million currently.

Counting Positives
While opening a preschool there is high returns along with more possibility for growth and expansion.
While opening a preschool there is high returns along with more possibility for growth and expansion.
  • A recession free business
  • Low Investment and high returns
  • Stress free, Cool and calm work environment
  • High degree of satisfaction
The pre-school market has also seen some consolidation happen in the last few quarters. with some players exiting some ventures and others acquiring new companies in the segment. In March, Educomp Solutions completed the sale of its entire 50 per cent stake in Eurokids International Limited to a group of investors led by GPE India. The company had made a profit of ` 70 crore on this investment, and the proceeds were used for its core business.
While some have been adopted franchisee model, others have emphasised on self-operated centres. Tree House had a net addition of 40 pre-schools in the third quarter of FY13 and the total number of centres as of December 31, 2012, were 349 across 38 cities. Out of this, the number of self-operated centres was 278.According to a market study, it was expected that, the preschool market to reach $1,833 million by 2014, growing at a CAGR of around 13 per cent during 2011-2014.Profit quotient for women entrepreneursWith rapidly growing pre- school industry in India, leading chains are offering best of their business opportunities to women entrepreneurs to explore from. Majority of the pre-school and daycare brands have 80 per cent of women as their franchisees and are doing exceptionally well in their fields. Industry experts also vouch for the fact that pre-school franchising is considered as the safest route for womenpreneurs.Raman Bajaj, MD, Little Millenium- Educomp Childcare Pvt Ltd, says: “One of the benefits of running a preschool and early childcare centre Counting Positivesfor any woman is that it requires a significantly lower seed capital than that of a formal K12 school. Preschools also have a higher operating leverage as it provides multiple revenue streams from the same fixed cost base. Thus, running a preschool gives women entrepreneurs, an opportunity to pursue their passion and also earn high returns on their investment.”With aplenty disposable income, busy schedule and the never-ending demand for quality education have created a humungous market for pre- school and daycare centres in India. To cater to the untapped locations of tier- II and III cities, many more indigenous and foreign pre-school chains are mushrooming across India, offering opportunity to the women investors to show their professional side up.If studies are to be believed, the pre-primary education sector is projected to fetch rich turnover in the time to come via the franchise route. Leading players in the segment include EuroKids, Kidzee, Kangaroo Kids Education Limited (KKEL), Little Millennium- Educomp Solutions Ltd’s, SHEMROCK and SHEMFORD Group of Schools, Planet Kids, Sesame Street Preschool, Time Kids, Hello Kids, Bachpan- a playschool, Beehive and Maple Bear Education. All of the brands have been successful via their diligent women franchisees pan-India.

“Every individual understands the importance of education, and lately have also realised that a strong founda – tion is very important for a successful tomorrow. Pre-school where the building blocks are laid have immense op – portunities in the education market. Though, competition has increased for the same but so has the demand of good pre-schools where a child enjoys com – ing and exploring the fun opportunities of learning varied things,” feels Anurag Vij, Director, The Chintels.

Children learn and grasp most at the age of 4. During this time they learn to assimilate, express interest and develop cognitive and emotional skills. Hence pre-school play an important role in the overall development of a child’s cogni – tive skills and intelligence.

“The specific objective of pre-primary education is to provide all necessary care and education to young children for their development through physical, cognitive, linguistic, social and emo – tional growth. Pre-school is the time to develop the skills to prepare the students for formal education in class I. Students are provided opportunities to develop gross and fine motor skills, creativity, and social skills in a fun filled ambience which is conducive to learning. Hence, a strong pre-school programme is the solid foundation on which a good education is laid and it is essential for a good school – ing,” shares Reddy.

The pre-school revenue is expected to increase to $3.24bn by 2017 at a CAGR of 27.33 per cent from 2011 to 2017.

Investment Required

Cover Story Array Learning 4With the growing demand of pre-school in India, franchise options are in plenty to open up a pre-school. Franchisee school guarantees that it will help secure the best play school franchise, so that one can reap the benefits of owning the pre-school franchise.

There are lots of variations involved in the cost depending upon the type of pre-school, city, area, etc. The basic cri – teria for starting a pre-school is research. One needs to research on the amount of capital to be invested and the return on investment (ROI) that is expected from the project. It is also required to under – stand the terms and conditions of the pre-school brands and also understand the way they execute the establishment of the segment.

“For starting, a Maple Bear Canadian Pre-school, you need between ` 15-30 lakhs as initial investment. However, it varies depending on the type of the city and condition of the infra structure a vailable,” tells Hazel Siromoni, Managing Director, Maple Bear.

“For setting up a pre-school you need to invest good amount of money depending on the scale at which you want to operate your pre-school. The in vestment would range between INR 8 Lakhs to INR 10 Lakhs depending upon the location and area chosen,” informs, Vittal Bhandary, Founder and Managing Di – rector, Little Elly.

Other cost that is to be kept in mind before starting a pre-school is infrastructure and interiors as per the requirements of the brand, marketing and advertising cost, staff recruitment, training prior to the commencement of the school.

Advantages Galore

17Starting a pre-school is one of the many profitable business options available to – day. Franchising can help you succeed in business with their franchise models, training, promotions, as well as support. Pre-school business receives support of a corporate establishment with years of experience and gain excellent support services to set up, launch and operate a successful pre-school.

“The pre-school sector definitely has a low entry barrier. For people who always want to be a part of something bigger,pre-school business provides complete support in starting their own business through franchise opportunity which offers 15 per cent ROI (return on invest – ment) within the first year itself,” adds Bhandary. One of the foremost advantages of starting a pre-school is satisfaction of providing strong foundation to kids. Having pre-school business provides complete support in starting their own business through franchise opportunity which offers 15 per cent ROI (return on invest – ment) within the first year itself,” adds Bhandary. One of the foremost advantages of starting a pre-school is satisfaction of pro – viding strong foundation to kids. Having been an easy esta blish business, it involves limited legal permissions and the invest – ment cost is very low. Once established, it is easier to mana ge than any other busi – ness and with the starting of a franchise model, it has become m uch easier for an entrepreneur to start a pre-school.

Quality First

The pre-schools that come up are man – aged by either private education institutes or NGOs and follo ws simple pre-school management techniques. They follow the mandatory requirements laid down by the education department of the state. How – ever, there are a lot many amendments in the administr ation and management. Like the primary and high schools that have mandatory assessments and inspections, the pre-schools need to have such defined and scheduled checks.

The quality checks and assessments for Aerokids pre-schools are evaluated on the following parameters:

Pre-school curriculum evaluation research: A high quality, standardised day wise preschool curriculum, which is flexible enough to be success – fully administered to all states of India.

Facilities:

The internal and extra facilities provided by the school are placed under a check. This includes the safety and hygiene when it comes to stationery items, school equipment, toys, wash rooms, kitchen, food, travel and so on.

Assessment of teachers:

Teaching staff is recruited on basis of education and certification. Their performance in school also evaluated. This is the most crucial aspect.

Finances:

The fee structure and any subsequent revisions are verified if exorbitant amounts are not charged from the parents in the name of various expense heads. Other than the factors listed above, the quality checks which has some uni – form parameters that will ensure a thorough check of the quality output are assured by Aerokids.

“As these are the most important and founding years of a child’s education tenure, quality pre-school plays a very important role. It is even proven scien – tifically that 75 per cent of child’s brain dev elops till the age of five, therefore pre-schools play a very important role in shaping the minds and future of India. The early three years, parents will be the main influence in a child’s learning experiences. What they do and expose their child to will ha ve a vast impact on his/her developmental journey,” informs Kapasi.

“Early childhood development programme and curriculum should contain all opportunities for development of physical, cognitive, language, emotional and social domains with necessary learning activities. There should also be flexibility in the way these are applied allowing for individual differences to be accommodated,” says Reddy.

Role of Government Vital
Even though the country is embarking upon the concept of early childhood learning, the state governments too are ensuring to practice what is being preached.

Taking a cue from the central government’s policy on the early childhood, UNICEF sponsored studies and National Advisory Council reports, the Rajasthan government has initiated to draft and formulate a holistic policy for the development of a child and to check the mushrooming pre- schools in the state.

According to the policy, every Anganwadi or government sponsored childcare will be given a research kit which includes teaching learning material and no children would be subjected to admission test. The duration of programme or classroom period should not last more than 3-4 hours.

To make the learning interesting and attractive, the learning material would include toys and objects similar to the surroundings. The document states that the ideal child ratio would be around 1:20 and it is necessary to use the mother tongue as primary language of interaction.

Other than enhancing learning capabilities, the policy also focuses on monitoring the health of every child. From protection from hazards, health care to taking care of nutrition all are part of the draft.

The state of Rajasthan has worst percentage of students out of preschool. The ASER report says that 37.3 per cent children in the age group of three years were not in any pre-school.

For setting up a pre-school you need to invest good amount of money depending on the scale at which you want to operate your pre-school. The investment would range between 8 Lakhs Rs to  10 Lakhs Rs depending upon the location and area chosen.-Vittal Bhandary, Founder and Managing Director, Little Elly

Enhancing Growth through Learning
The expansion plan of the preschool sector in India looks positive and it is gain – ing momentum in terms of trend.

According Amisha Beri, Senior Vice President, Educomp Schools, there is a rising demand for pre-schools in smaller towns as well.

“The drivers are growing middle class population, rising income levels and escalating demand for high quality education for toddlers. Rapid ur – banisation and rise of nuclear families are the other factors that are fuelling the demand for branded pre-schools in Tier II and Tier III cities,” she says. “The role of preschool in the edu – cation market is huge. This is because whatever is inculcated at this age is what the child will learn , not in terms of academics theoretically, but in terms of cog – nitive learning,” says Mona Singh, Vice President, Sesame Schoolhouse.

Stating that the preschool segment can reap in lucrative options, Dharmesh Kapasi, President, Shanti Juniors said: “There are huge opportunities in the pre- school segment but there are challenges, which need to be carefully analysed and counter measures needs to be planned. Pre-school being the most lucrative segment of the Indian education market, there are lot of young entrepreneurs who want to invest in this segment.”

“Franchising became a wonderful concept of expanding the idea in a planned and structured manner which is resulting in pre-school franchising. It’s catching up fast as a business model. We have a vision to become one of the largest pre-schools of India and based on the same we have set our Y-O-Y targets,” Kapasi added.

According to Reddy, CHIREC: “Thepre-school segment seems to be most flourishing at this juncture. However, quality pre-schools which understand the science behind the learning process and the correlation with developmental stages, may be limited.”

The growth is also due to the fac – tor that parents in the urban space are working and have no option but to leave their child in a preschool.

“The need is felt more in the major cities, but with more and more both parents working in the 2 and 3 tier cit – ies, the need of good quality pre-schools with trained staff is the need of the hour,” said Reddy.

The growth prospect of this segment has only been increasing day by day. “Growth in the pre-school segment is moving at a rapid pace. Opportunities in this field in terms of growth are im – mense. Our school at present has nearly 650 children. The way of expansion what we are now looking forward to is through franchise model. Likewise, many pre-schools running across the country started with a single school and now have franchise throughout the country. Parents look forward not only for a name but also in this competitive era they look for quality where the child learns in a play way,” said Vij, The Chintels.

Managing Director & Founder of Aerokids, Suganthi Arulmurugan in – forms that researches on preschool edu – cation have shown that children taught at an early age usually have improved social skills, fewer behavioral problems and bet – ter grades without special and attention.

“Self-confidence gained by learning in a playful manner adds to the person – ality development of the child.”

“Young children learn best when they have an opportunity to interact with their peers, and their parents and in – structors treat them kindly. They bloom well in a tension free environment. Be – sides they comprehend and learn things better if they are introduced to new things in small portions,” she added

The role of preschool in the education market is huge. This is because whatever is inculcated at this age is what the child will learn, not in terms of academics theoretically, but in terms of cognitive learning.-Mona Singh, Vice President, Sesame Schoolhouse

Imparting the Basics

Sending a child to a pre-school, rather than teaching them the basics at home, is now being considered more effective by parents, even in Tier-3 and Tier-4 towns. This is the market which the pre- school segment players are looking to tap in this fiscal.

“Whatever one inculcates at this age is what the children learn in the real sense. These will include being imagi – native or communicative, it is the ex – posure that makes the child confident and not restricts his thinking . In India it is difficult to explore as we think in one track, where we have constraint a child’s mind, killing child’s thinking power and this is why children cannot think critically. We tell him to learn an answer of a particular question and the teachers too teach in similar manner. The education here is marks driven,” says Singh.

The learning imparted in the pre – school curriculum should very well en – sure that the teaching is for a holistic development of the child for his future quest for knowledge.

Rise in disposable income, increasing working couples, working mothers, nuclear families, escalating demand for high quality pre-school education for toddlers are other several reasons which are raising the demand for pre-schools. Dharmesh Kapasi, President, Shanti Juniors

D Reddy, CHIREC says: “Early child – hood development programme and cur – riculum should contain all opportunities for development of physical, cognitive, language, emotional and social domains with necessary learning activities. There should also be flexibility in the way these are applied allowing for individual differences to be accommodated.”

Vij feels:“Pre-school act as a potter to the argil. Researches have shown that how early childhood learning is embodied in the child’s mind can change its architecture. Early lessons definitely leaves lasting impressions and visionaries do begin at the age of two. 80 per cent of a child’s brain develops during the age of 2-5 years.”

Stating that each step towards learning is vital, he says, “These pre-school years give a foundation to the future learning. In some countries of the world in pre-school it is judged that where or which field a child is most interested in and then the child is trained in that specific field as well.”

“Lessons of life- like sharing and caring are taught at a very early age so that the child when grows up continues to share his things. Right from holding the grip of a pencil to scribbling with a crayon, drawing the first standing and the sleeping line to the first fancy dress competition, listening to fairy tales and mythological tale, every little bit is embibed in a child’s brain which keeps on developing and as we know that the tall – est building has strongest foundation,” Vij added.

The child’s ability to learn and grow is unique and special, says Bhandary, Little Elly. “Our teachers ensure that each and every child get proper guidance to grow, in a mutually accepting and nurturing environment.”

“Our concept rooms make the children’s transition smooth, hassle-free and pro vide an environment that jump-start their developmental process, to acquire knowledge and under – standing of various concepts through creative learning and play. Our programmes help children develop their la tent creative, language and math skills through the Rudolf Steiner and Montessori Method,” he said.

A market study also indicated that the share of organised players to in – crease to 34 per cent by FY16 from 11 per cent in FY10 with the rising awareness about quality pre-school education, big expansion plans of existing players and the entry of more organised players in the pre-school segment.

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