The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 provides for free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years.
India has 15.22 lakh schools, out of which 72.57% schools are government schools. Even though government schools provide free elementary education along with incentives like mid-day meals, free text books and uniforms, a large percentage of students are moving to private schools. 42.83% of all the school students in the country are enrolled in private schools. Also, the private school share has been growing at about 1 – 1.5 percentage points yearly; the projection is that by 2030 this will cross 50%.
Parents are willing to pay fees to private schools for their child’s education. This is because of parents’ perception that private schools provide better quality than their government counterparts. This clearly shows that parents are concerned about the quality of education of their child and therefore the quality of the school too.
Parents want to choose a school for their child which provides high quality education. But more often than not, their choice of school is based on general perception and reviews of the school from friends and family. Even though parents seek quality, they do not assess quality of schools using reliable metrics and credible data.
A lot of private school players have leveraged this perception based decision making process of the parents to their undue advantage. Hence, one can see a sharp increase in low quality schools with huge student enrollment where parents of the students are spending a large share of their income on their child’s school fee.
Even if parents want to know about the quality of prospective schools for their child, it is difficult because of lack of awareness and also information asymmetry. Parents neither have a good idea of parameters on which a school should be chosen, nor do they have access to credible data to make a choice.
Parents want to choose high quality schools for enrolling their child but their choices are generally dominated by perception. Data driven decision making while choosing schools is rare. Parents do not have access to any reliable system which can help them make that right choice based on insights from data.
To solve the problem of giving parents an access to the right information on schools, many other countries have come up with data portals for choosing schools based on their quality. “Great Schools” which is a data portal on school information in the USA has been a great success. A similar portal in Mexico called “Mejora Tu Escuela” receives 80,000 visits / day during school admissions.
Following are few of the exemplar portals existing in different countries along with fields on which they capture information.
A portal can be conceptualized and built which would act as the central resource providing key information related to schools to help parents make right decisions while choosing a school. By using the portal – Choose My School – a parent will be able to search a school he/she is interested in and will be able to find all the relevant information (example: fees, learning outcomes, school characteristics, faculty qualifications and experience etc.) related to choosing a school. The portal will also have a rating system where each school will be given a rating based on school’s score on the quality index. Public reviews can also be captured and viewed on the portal for any specific school.
The entrepreneur will go through a journey where he will convert this seed of thought into reality. Google revolutionized the way we search and choose websites, Zomato revolutionized the way we choose restaurants; similarly Choose My School will revolutionize the way we choose schools in the country. The entrepreneur will not only lead the mission to conceptualize, design and develop this portal but will also will lead a change to improve the decision making process of parents while choosing a school, from one which is perception based to one which is driven by data.
In order to make Choose My School a reality, it will be important to find ways to get credible data from schools. As the schools are very fragment segment, it will be a challenge to bring information from all of them to one common platform. Also, while schools record a lot of data on school infrastructure, teaching staff etc. which is also easily available, getting data for parameters such as school fees, student learning outcomes etc. will be critical.