Monday, September 29, 2008

Affordable Quality Education

Thoughts on Universal education... 

for a moment lets focus on a few key figures...

GDP: 600 bn
Population: 1 bn
Per capita income: 600 dollars ~ 25000 rupees
Per capita income per month ~ 2000 rupees

So what we are talking of is providing affordable quality education to the tens of millions of children belonging to these average income households. Cynics may disagree with this average figure – quoting a much lower figure, or much higher as GDP may not cover the hidden incomes, but I would stick to it for broad decision purposes.

Now that we have decided on the monthly income of a household, lets get down to some more numbers. Out of these 2000 rupees, the majority will go towards food, housing, clothes, loan re-payments etc. But major surveys have come out with the top priority of Indian households. Number One goes to Food and Number Two goes to Education. Lets concentrate now on these two key things - Food & Education and their impacts. Food is needed to sustain the present, and education is needed to create the future.

If Education is priority number Two, then it will not be out of place to discover that the household will try its best to take out a portion of its total income to invest in something that could help create a better future. Probably 10% could be a figure one can arrive at. So what an average household has is 200 rupees to spend on its children’s’ education. And this is the total figure. Assuming that average number of kids being 2, the per-child expenditure comes to be 100 rupees. And this should include not just tuition, but also books & stationary.

Agenda – provide affordable quality education at 100 rupees per child per month, covering tuition fees, books & stationary. The education model has to arrive at this figure, and be profitable to sustain itself in the long run, at these price points in the short to medium term. I would take this period to be whole of a generation getting through a period by which it becomes employable (approx 15 years).

The affordable part has been looked into. Lets now look into the Quality angle. What goes into providing a quality education?

Physical Infrastructure – Closed Space/ Open Space
Intellectual Infrastructure – Instructor intensive/ Learner Intensive
Technological Infrastructure – Blackboard/ Machine based

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