Could parents be the key to revitalizing the education sector?

With 250 million Indian children enrolled in schools, there’s an enormous opportunity for private enterprises focused on providing services to the critical K-12 segment. As we’ve witnessed a slow, steady increase in the number of private enterprises involved in India’s education sector, it’s baffling that so few private companies have thrived in a country in such desperate need of quality education options. Six K-12 companies are listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange, their combined revenue in the financial year 2015 was a mere USD $125 million, accounting for less than one quarter of one percent of the USD $56 billion private education spend.

From our perspective, we believe private enterprises in India’s education sector could accelerate their revenue potential and position themselves for long-term success by acknowledging parents as relevant stakeholders and engaging them in the companies’ market-building activities.

The power of parent stakeholders

In any language, parents are the most vehement advocates for their children.  They are most invested in their children’s access to a quality education and prospects for the future.  Who else better then to influence the education sector in India and spark significant economic growth in the ‘business’ of education?

Throughout the entire country, parents of India’s school children are interested in learning how to ensure their children achieve academic success. However, the same willing stakeholders—who could prove more influential than any other collective voice—are silenced by their lack of knowledge regarding school service providers and the potential impact they can have on children’s learning. If businesses in the education sector will invest time and resources in educating parents on how and why they should consider private sector options, parents will more likely invest in the education of their children.

Seizing current opportunities for growth while leveraging the parent community as advocates will help viable education entities sustain and scale their operations.

Private, education entities could begin to educate parents via communication vehicles easily accessible by families of all socioeconomic levels:

  • Targeted communication strategies, such as individualized child-level reports or simple periodic updates on learning landmarks
  • Conducting periodic workshops with parents on wide-ranging topics, like academics, news tools and techniques to engage children at home etc.

Suffice to say, as imperative as it is that companies market to parents, there are many models which can be delivered most effectively only through formal schools and teachers. But what must change is the importance we attach to parents as a crucial stakeholder.

Immediate opportunity for education sector growth

There is no dearth of evidence that low-income parents long for more quality education options for their children and are willing to pay for it. More than 30 percent of India’s children are currently attending low-cost, private schools, and those student populations are projected to grow in response to the unchanged, poor-quality government schools.

Private sector service providers in the K-12 segment looking to scale their businesses must replicate the demand affordable private schools have created. Seizing current opportunities for growth while leveraging the parent community as advocates will help viable education entities sustain and scale their operations.

Education will always be big business, but the current opportunity for private enterprises and investors to explode, in a relatively untapped market, in India hinges upon the support of influential stakeholders who can knowledgeably market services that will improve student learning outcomes. Parents are those who most desire better quality schools across India.  They are the ones who will able to attest to the value of the educational services their students’ utilize. And they are possibly the best kept marketing secret in India.