Role of Quality and Cost in Education

Which plays larger role in India? Quality in education or Cost of Education?

I was motivated to enable and empower people in India  and democratise education by Khan academy and wanted on-line approach to create impact in Indian education space. I dreamt to build consortia with telecom companies like AirTel and investment is cake-walk. I joined Guru and Balaji’s trying to democratise education. Looking after 2 years, I see wrong assumptions made.

I has thought about quality of education my children get and we are worried about the school and attention she gets. I see that people starting digital learning companies are mostly from my background. I consider buying a book or getting education as a long-term investment, expected to pay off high in later years and this perspective makes me price insensitive and optimize for quality.

My 2 years learning says that people look at education as expense. The parent needs to incur the expense to help his child to gain job. Lack of education impact quality of life by removing job security and reduces money earning capability of the person. This means when you are 70, you do not have money and need to continue to work till you are dead. No money means that your children will not be able to get competitive education needed for global environment. Spend money now to earn money later.

I assumed that the target audience will treat education has  a quality problem. My learning is The average person considers education a cost problem.

I assumed that usage of internet could scale delivery of higher quality solutions to mainstream students and also make it accessible. I have learnt to scale education in India, education needs to be student focused with offer for  real savings to students, easy to access and  interesting to learn, driven using channels of schools and colleges to drive down the cost.

I assumed that change can be achieve faster in education space. My learning is performing right things in education space involves bringing a change in mindset and the change is long-term process. It goes slow. Do not expect change as easy as updating the website.  I have interacted with entrepreneurs who are in  start-up-mode even after working 8 years for genuine change in education and are just crossing the  break-even point.

My assumption that a  lot of opportunity to serve the poor continues to remain true. I should be ready to have my eyes open for the poor, rather than selling to the middle class.  Deliver real value in education space has highest chance  of getting noticed by all the audience. My learnings in brief are as follows.

  • Developing a better education product in education may not always lead to success.  Delivering education at low-cost makes it successful. It does not matter whether cheap delivery is for education of   high value or low value quality.
  • Do not start targeting only the west or middle class who are early adopters of internet. You run to trap of building a niche business that might not take to go mainstream.
  • Do not take VC funding as education business cannot live up to VC expectations. Take money for people who want to make a difference in education. Be aware that education business are not capital constrained. Do not expect a quick growth. It takes very long years to build a large, successful education company and do not expect the growth like an Internet technology company. To ramp quickly means that your core market is identified to deliver real value;