New Delhi: With
India needing 45,000 more colleges in the next 10 years to serve
some 400 million students, education is not only attracting
private enterprise but also emerging as a preferred investment
"Education is now being considered one of most preferred sectors
for investments," says Narayanan Ramaswamy, executive director
with consultancy KPMG. "Sectors like technology, hospitality and
financial services are particularly attractive," Ramaswamy told
"The only concern is how long it will take to get returns on
For long, running schools and colleges had been the domain of
state-run and state-funded institutions, philanthropists, welfare
trusts, missionaries and the like. But experts say this is
expected to undergo a change now on the lines of what happened in
If institutions such as NIIT, Aptech, Franklin and Rau's Study
Circle led the boom in training, the education sector is
witnessing the expansion of franchises such as Aloha, Edify
School, Abacus and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Bal Mandir.
The potential for business is also huge. As a leading
industrialist, whose family runs both non-profit and private
education institutions, put it recently: "At just $1,000 per year
per person for higher education, India is a $200-billion market by
"In other countries, the private sector plays a meaningful role in
helping governments. It is nice to see a similar trend emerging in
India as well," Barry O'Callaghan, chairman, Education Media and
Publishing Group International, told IANS.
"Research shows the market can benefit from the education sector
becoming an enterprise," adds O'Callaghan, whose group builds and
runs education content and services firms in India and China in
partnerships with local institutions and entrepreneurs.
According to Gaurav Marya, president of Franchise India - an
industry lobby for those in the franchise business -, the
education and training sector was no longer limited to some
philanthropists and waas actually attracting private investment.
"We are witnessing a phenomenal change. Education now is being
looked as a good business opportunity. Education as an enterprise
is no more a bad word. There is a huge amount of interest from the
private players," adds Marya.
It is this industry lobby that says in its report entitled "Indian
Education Franchising Report 2011" that the next 10 years will see
India need at least 1,000 more universities and 45,000 more
colleges to cater to an estimated 400 million students.
But for that to happen there are some fundamental issues that need
to be addressed, says O'Callaghan. "You need huge sums of money to
correct it," he says, adding it also needs to spread to rural
areas that has weak infrastructure, sanitation and faculty.
"There is a wide gap in the services provided by the education
sector. In urban areas, there is mushrooming of schools. But we do
not find good institutions in rural areas," says Ashok Ganguly,
former chairman of the Central Board of Secondary Education.
"The government needs to ensure that the gap is filled," he says,
adding only then will the Right to Education Act achieve the
desired objective and spread literacy across the country.
In fact, the human resource development ministry had estimated
that to implement this law and arrest drop-out rates, an
investment of Rs.2.3 trillion (Over $50 billion) was required over
five years beginning April 1 last year.
That is a huge amount, leaving no alternative but to rope in the
private sector. "The only concern is regulatory measures must be
clear and transparent."
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