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Online tuitions: A dollar spinner for Indians
Arvinder Kaur in New Delhi | October 12, 2006 12:01 IST
According to an online tutorial site, nearly 100,000 teachers from India and Pakistan were expected to set up their own Internet businesses during September-October, the time when the new academic session begins in America, to teach students there.
"Educational Services Outsourcing definitely seems to be the next in-thing. Education is a growing sector and the demand for Indian educators is on the rise," says Kiran Karnik, president, Nasscom. "Indian educators are respected globally and held in high esteem. We must capitalise on this opportunity," he says.
"ESO market is estimated to be $8 billion and Indian teachers are currently offering services to countries like US, UK , Canada , and the Middle East," says Shantanu Parkash of Educomp, an e-learning major.
"School tuitions is the main sector for Indian teachers as in higher education, accreditation with the American Education Council is compulsory. It is just the beginning of ESO and many small players have entered into the field," says Nicholas George, vice president, NIIT.
There is very high demand for tuitions in maths, science and English. Though the main demand is from USA, newer markets of Netherlands and Europe too are fast opening up for Indian teachers, says George.
Low cost of tuitions and very good teaching skills of Indian teachers is what attracts American students and parents to them, says George. Thus when the rest of the India sleeps, many postgraduate teachers sit wide awake before their PCs, giving interactive online tuitions to children seated before similar computer modules, continents apart in the USA.
A number of online sites have come up where teachers can register, stating their expertise in a particular subject. The sites sub-contract work from SES (Supplemental Education Services) in the US. Schools unable to improve student performance are falling back on tuitions for help.
There are over 75 such tuition centres across the US. Called SES providers, they charge students up to $40 an hour to take classes. Wire the work to India over broadband links and it can be done for half the cost.
However, there are some Indian educational technology companies which have directly approached the schools in the US, he says. The Education Market Research of US estimates the K-12 market size at $ 2 billion annually. K-12 is the North American designation for primary and secondary education.
The infrastructure for EPO includes broadband connectivity and a workstation with a whiteboard that replaces the traditional blackboard. The student and teacher can speak to each other continuously using a hands-free headset, much like talking on a telephone.
The student and teacher also write questions and answers on the same workspace displayed on both the student's and teacher's computer screens using a digital pencil (like a stylus) and a digital writing pad (that's the whiteboard, similar to a mouse pad).
The trick lies in training the teachers to handle American students. Most companies in India put them through a training programme.
The focus is on attitude - training teachers to teach students online in real time, solve problems in US books, engage in group meetings and understand common mistakes that the students make, which is followed by voice and accent training.
The online tutorial interaction uses both voice and data. Exercises are done on electronic notebooks which are available at both ends.
"Indian teachers are doing a very good job and the students and their parents are also satisfied with their high standards of teaching," says Anju Agrawal, who takes maths tutorials for American students from India.
Market for high quality digital content for all subjects (mapped to the learning standards of the particular country) will see huge demand and consequent growth. Online tutoring for all subjects(beyond Math and Science) will also pick up, notes Parkash.