Leveraging technology and partnerships to innovate at scale!
2017 has been quite an eventful year for all of us. IL&FS Education completed two decades of passion filled, meaningful existence to create a better world: 20 years; 20 million students, teachers, and youth impacted; 40,000 schools, skill development centres and industrial clusters. But, in the light of possibilities, in the light of what-needs-to-be-done, it appears small. Those legendary lyrics of Bob Dylan rings in my ears: “How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?”
I was in my native village last week: Duttalur, located in a not-so-idyllic setting in the rain shadow area of Nellore District of Andhra Pradesh. I grew up there: no water, no infrastructure, no amenities; acres of parched land. Since then, lots have changed. Infrastructure has bettered. Aspirations have soared. Access has improved. Mobile phones have penetrated. But one thing that hasn’t changed much is the “classroom; the model of delivery of education; the quality and efficacy of the teaching-learning process.
And, Duttalur is just a representative sample
While on one hand, India boasts of its demographic dividend with 64 percent of the people in the working age group (15-59 years), on the other hand, there’s still a large proportion of students in both government & private schools performing below “grade-level” despite growing enrolments; only 7 percent of engineering grads are employable; one-in-three youth are not in employment-education-or-training (NEET) indicating enough jobs aren’t getting created, as well. And the jobs that do exist today, you never know if they would, five years hence, given the rapid advancements in technology driven by automation and AI
The last 20 years of our endeavour has been towards solving this conundrum: How might we improve the quality of teaching-learning; how might we create viable models of job-linked skills and build resilience to skills obsolescence; how might we facilitate creation of sustainable jobs in the country; how might we create impact across 3Es : Education-Employability-Employment. And, how could we make learning more personalized and student-centric, yet retaining the teacher in the equation. How could we remove all barriers and democratize the delivery of 3Es. And in the process, we realized that technology and collaboration played very critical roles – for innovating at scale
2017 has been a year where we made significant progress on these fronts. We incubated and piloted several learner-centric, scalable solutions for education and skills leveraging technology, in partnerships with several tech majors and start-ups : We created EnglishBolo, an easy, affordable solution using a multi-sensory approach for learning spoken English in partnership with EnglishHelper Inc; we’ve been developing Geneo – a personalized and device agnostic learning platform, with an AI backbone – in partnership with Google, and several other start-ups like Avanti, Educe, Simulanis, Nextsteps.ai – that’s being used by 30,000 users from our family; with the US based start-up called Collegevine we launched a tech-enabled solution for admissions to US colleges; with LinkedIn we have been developing a job-discovery and learning platform for middle-skilled workers. And several others are under development
In all this, we derive our strength from the 20 million students, teachers, youth, entrepreneurs that we directly reach out to on a daily basis, and the additional 80 million that we can reach out to potentially through them
We believe that with the power of technology and collaboration, backed by the strength of our direct touchpoints, impacting a billion people on the planet isn’t that difficult
The only limitation that I see to it is our inability to “dream big”
For us, what has remained constant all these years is our commitment to improving the lives of the people we serve through 3Es.
Towards that end, in 2018, I look forward to working with more such partners in co-creating several such solutions and taking those to scale. Let us do it. Together.
Wish everyone a happy new year, once again!