“The new NEP can catapult Indian students’ level to compete with students of developed countries”

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By Education Today

Posted on January 13, 2021


8 min read

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With an exclusive interaction with Education Today, Keshav Maheshwari, whole-time executive of Allen Career Institute speaks about the NEP 2020, impact of COVID -19 on the coaching industry and how they are trying to reinvent themselves, Industry’s embracing digital transformation Company’s future plans and much more…

Please walk us through Allen Career Institute’s journey so far. How does the company contribute to Indian education sector?

Think of competitive examinations in India and the first thought that comes to mind is of students and parents seeking the right coaching courses. From Kota to Hyderabad and Delhi, Coaching Inc has spawned teaching hubs with factory-style scale and the ability to turn asymmetric input into uniformly refined output. Founded in 1988 today Allen Career Institute has over 1.56 lakh students, and the footprint had expanded across 18 cities in six states and over 100 study centres. The numbers kept swelling. By March 2020, Allen had 2 lakh students in classroom coaching, and over 1.5 lakh in long-distance programmes.

In the 80s, coaching (then known as tuition) was more of a mom-and-pop kind of operation, with individual teachers running their classes from their respective homes? Allen changed that, what made the business difficult was the prevalence of a widespread cottage industry, where a teacher commanded a following on the basis of her reputation. Allen has churned out excellent numbers over the last three decades. The fact that they survived, thrived and flourished tells you the story of how smartly they have managed the traditional brick-and-mortar business. 

Please give us an insight into the competitive exam coaching industry in India?

More than 15 million students prepare for competitive exams (IIT JEE, CAT, Banking, etc) every year. Henceforth, it is safe to say that, test preparation indeed is one of the most lucrative business models that exist today.

The Indian coaching industry is assumed to be growing at over 15 per cent per year, welcoming new educators and brands for offering coaching services to competitive exam aspirants. Especially when technology has become an essential component of the Indian education industry, entrepreneurs are fully utilising the tool for enhancing their services, assuring their place in this competitive industry.

How do you describe Allen’s competitive position in the Indian coaching industry compared to its contemporaries?

Allen Digital Classroom is one such initiative that has created a buzz in the recent time. The brand, after successfully dominating the offline coaching industry is now catering through the online platform. The brand’s primary motive is to make coaching services accessible to every student that belongs to both the rural and urban areas of our country.

Through such online platforms, educators are offering hundreds of coaching sample papers that can prepare students to stay competitive while preparing for the examination. Further, the availability of online doubt classes by experts is another key feature that is making this initiative further fruitful.

The COVID-19 pandemic triggered the fastest-ever shift of education to the online platforms. What strategies you’ve adopted to cope up with this situation?

As mentioned earlier, with the lockdown started in March we realised that it will continue for some time since cases are rising at that time, so we started Digital Online Classes for session 2020-21 (for IIT-JEE, JEE Main, NEET (UG), Classes 6th to 10th, 11th and 12th). In this teaching mode, students can attend classes from home. After completing the admission process student will be provided access to the Digital Classroom Online Portal and through that platform student can attend the online class using mobile, desktop, laptop and other similar devices. All the faculties of ALLEN Career Institute are helping the students in this online learning programme.

What are your views on the National Education Policy 2020? What are its takeaways for Indian coaching industry?

This is a revolutionary policy that can catapult Indian students’ level to compete with students of developed countries. The change by a marks-based report to a holistic test will guarantee a transfer away from rote learning to conceptual learning.  The NEP 2020 talks about the elimination of coaching. Coaching has always been supplementing the school education curriculum, which is formulated, keeping the population’s median in mind. Unless the academic inputs given at school level are increased considerably, eliminating coaching is a distant possibility. 

What, according to you, are key hurdles in the path of NEP implementation?

The launch of India’s New Education Policy (NEP), 2020, after a gap of 34 years, with year-long consultations with a large number of stakeholders is a step in the right direction. While changes in the prevailing educational structure of 10+2+3+2, replacing it with 5+3+3+4 and multiple entry and exit options, are innovative and ambitious moves, they are full of challenges.

In view of this, beyond doubt the NEP is quite good in its spirit and content. However, the real challenge lies in its implementation.  Because there are many policies, which despite their intent could not make any difference and most of the Indian higher educational institutions are still churning out mostly unemployable youth. Value addition through their degrees, too, is not helpful to make them productive. 

Also, since the change has to be made from the elementary stage, therefore, touching the pulse from the very beginning and developing a uniform system would be the key to victory. A large number of trained teachers or trainers for skill-mapping would be needed in the foundational stage. Unless this is implemented in spirit, the goal would remain unfulfilled.

How you think this new policy will catapult India into top educational hub?

New education Policy 2020 is a beneficial policy. Public and private higher education institutions will be governed by the same set of norms for regulation, accreditation and academic standards. The decision of capping the fee charged by private higher educational institutions will also help in creating an environment of equality in quality of education. Also, as NEP plans to integrate vocational education and skill-based learning at different levels including schools and higher education institutions, hence it can be called as futuristic.

What are the specific government policies that you would like to be implemented for the growth of the coaching industry in India?

Outcomes of coaching has always made the nation proud. In academics and in sports and various other fields, the actual contributions coming from private coaching go unnoticed. We request the governments to involve the Coaching fraternity in discussions about the educational policy to get a 360-degree view. This will be in the best interest of the student community and nation at large. 

How the push towards Digital is slowly revolutionizing the coaching business?

Online coaching and mentoring is the next education frontline. There are innumerable reasons to choose online coaching and 90 per cent of students today think that online learning is the same or better than the traditional classroom experience. Every student and coach must assess their unique situation and decide according to their needs and goals. The main objective of online coaching institutions should be helping the students to learn meritoriously. If anyone wants to give the greatest number of students the greatest amount of opportunity, investment has to be done in online coaching sector, and it pays off. Indeed online coaching and mentoring can be resourceful, lucrative, accessible, and it is already indicating to be a driver in student success. What better reasons could there be?

What are the major challenges you are facing and how are you gearing up?

Digital coaching is going to rise in the future as more and more are adopting to it, but it has its fair share of challenges.  The point is that the crisis and the response to it has exposed weaknesses in educational systems across verticals, while creating opportunities to reshape coaching education to a new paradigm that is more resilient and robust. This pandemic is not the first, nor will it be the last, to impact countries and schools and coaching industry. Such crises are becoming increasingly likely with climate change, technological disruptions and globalised connectivity.

The solution lies in neither a top-down approach from policymakers, reactive changes to teacher preparation and in-service training, nor temporary makeshift arrangements by under-resourced principals and teachers. All parties need to be involved in developing strategies that can be implemented in the near-term as well as long-term. A dialogue across all levels of education is therefore critical in making informed policy to prepare for the new normal in school or coaching education.

Cast some light on Allen’s overseas expansion plans?

With the second generation entering the business from 2014 onwards ALLEN CAREER INSTITUTE shifted its gears. In 2018-19, it had 1.56 lakh students, and the footprint had expanded across 18 cities in six states and over 100 study centers. The numbers kept swelling. By March 2020, Allen had 2 lakh students in-classroom coaching and over 1.5 lakh in long-distance programs.

I am in charge of the global expansion of Allen Career Institute. Already present in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar, we are exploring new geographies to explore foreign markets for Allen.

What are your future projects and plans?

Recently we have started our Dubai operation and are planning to exploring new geographies for Allen Career Institute and want to make it a Global Institute.

Would you like to proffer some useful tips/advice to budding edu-preneurs?

If you’re not willing to take smart and calculated risks along the way, you’re giving up your chance to succeed. Taking risks is necessary, but taking unnecessary risks is plain stupid. Make sure you understand all the pros and cons of your actions before you take a step. And once you’ve taken the leap of faith, pray everything works out in your favour.