Five Reasons Why India Is Likely To Become An Education SuperpowerInThis Century
Over the last few quarters, I have visited close to a hundred cities and towns in India. Let me share my observations as to how education is shaping up in India: 1. Aspiration of an Indian Parent:
I met with a few parents who are MDs/IAS/CxO etc. Most of them have an inherent Indian desire for their children to leap forward (compared to themselves) in their careers. They are keen to put their kids in the best of schools like those with annual fees of Rs. 5-6 lakhs. They are also quite happy to spend crores to get their kids a degree through a US/UK based university like MIT/Oxford etc.
I also met a few parents who are class-3 employees in factories, or drivers or maidservants. Most of them also want their kids to be engineers or doctors. A Horse Cart owner from Bijapur was proud to inform me that his eldest son is currently pursuing a BE in Computer Science from a local engineering college. He also expressed a strong desire to ensure his younger kids also get into college.
Irrespective of economic status, every Indian parent has a deep aspiration that their kids must do better than themselves in their careers. This is the most important factor that drives the demand for high quality education services in the country.
2. Systemic shift from Agriculture Economy to Industrial/Knowledge Economy
Indiais in the middle of shift from Agriculture-Economy to Industrial/Knowledge economy. I talked to some farmers recently. One of them says that he has 15 acres of land, but still cannot have a lifestyle even equivalent to a class-3 worker working in a factory. Hence he does not want his kids to do farming even though he has a large piece of land compared to all others in his village. He is determined to make his kids study in the best possible school at a nearby city even at the cost of selling a part of his land to pay the fees.
I’ve also observed that many well-to-do families from villages shift to cities, rent a house and stay there for few years to ensure that their kids get the best possible education.
This is a systemic shift. The per-person net income exponentially changes when you shift your profile from being a farmer to a class-3 factory worker to a class-2 officer to jobs like engineer/doctor/IAS/NRI. There are many examples that people have seen during the last 20 years. Hence everyone has the aspiration to move on and make the quantum shift.
This is creating, and will continue to create massive demand for high quality education and training.
3. Young Minds and Massive Consumer Base
We all know the demographic dividend is inIndia's favour. We have the largest young population in the world. Human mind is the most productive asset to enable progress of a society. Machines, technologies and automations in vacuum (without significant consumer base) cannot create a sustained economic advantage,Japanis an example.
Large young population acts like a massive consumer base, and also as a large human capital that can be used to develop goods and services to be in turn used by this large consumer base.
This needs massive scale education and training of all young minds at school level, college level and vocational level.
4. Cost Structure:
Most of the good schools in large cities have annual fees in the range of Rs. 15000 - Rs. 50000 per annum. This is less than 1/10th of what you see in developed world either in terms of per capita cost in public schools or per capita fee in private schools. This makes high quality education affordable in India. This cost structure is certainly sustainable for the next few decades. We have teacher quality issues, but when we have millions of graduates and post- graduates unemployed, it is just an issue of addressing the teacher training problem. Few weeks ago, I was in a very small town called Gokak in Karnataka, where 200 candidates walked-in for a primary school teacher job in a good private school. This indicates that there are large numbers of aspirants available for teaching jobs. This in turn will ensure that education cost does not inflate due to disproportionate increase in teacher’s salary costs.
This cost structure has started driving students from other countries to come toIndia, and it will definitely accelerate further.
Technologies and tools like the internet, flight travel, telephone have made human relocation easier. Indians do not mind leaving their hometown and settling in any part of the world. A large no of Indians would continue to relocate either within or outside the country to produce greater income for their families. This creates a larger demand for trained and educated human capital supply chain.
In Kerala, you will hardly find a house where a member of the family is not in the middle-east. I keep visiting Andhra towns, and we all know of their deep urge to send their kids to the US. There are mini-Keralas and Andhras in almost every part of the country. The only way to meet that aspiration to go out is to get good education.
And this is driving the demand for education services, and will continue to do so for many decades to come.
In economics, demand is the fundamental building block of progress, which has to be met by corresponding supply. Fulfilling demand for education services will create hundreds of large suppliers and entrepreneurs catering to various verticals and horizontals segments within the sector. Higher entrepreneurial activity leads to competition and innovation, which in long run creates a superpower status for the country in that sector.
I am quite positive that we will see India becoming an education superpower in our lifetime.