“We are doing a Joint Venture with a tech company and will soon come up with an e-learning platform”

Says Nirvaan Birla, Head Business Development of Birla Edutech, talking about the significance of facilitating industry connect with students for the Yash Birla group, the recent rebranding of the Birla schools and an upcoming JV with a tech company to set up an e-learning platform

Nirvaan Birla, Head Business Development, Birla Edutech

Earlier this year, Birla Edutech forayed into the international education curriculum space with the launch of Birla Open Minds International School. Birla Edutech’s Head Business Development, Nirvaan Birla, who took charge last year, oversees the 60 schools that fall under the company’s brand. The company which runs preschools and K12 schools under different brand names, Globetoters, Shloka and Open Minds underwent a rebranding exercise in July to integrate their offerings under one banner, bringing in international curriculum to keep in line with the company’s goals to set up schools outside the country. Here’s what Nirvaan Birla had to say about Birla Edutech’s vision.

How does Birla Edutech fit into the bigger picture of the Birla Group?

As industrialists, we are very much aware of the connect between the industry and schools. We hope that the education imparted by us can help students make informed choices and choose their career path later on in their lives. Having set up many schools in the past under the Birla banner, education is something that is close to us. At Birla Edutech, we hope to promote education through an independent style of learning by closely working with schools and teachers providing training and infrastructure facilities.

We also provide 9th standard internships for a few weeks at the Birla plants and offices. This helps them get a sense of the employment opportunities available for them at a later stage. Career counselling programmes are also offered in the schools we run.

What has been your approach to setting up schools?

Earlier, we had three individual brands which were Globetoters, Shloka and Open Minds. Globetoters being the chain of preschools and Shloka and Open Minds being the K-12 schools. Initially, the plan was to differentiate between rural and semi-urban tier two and tier three locations and the metros based on the requirements of schools. The premise was that in urban centres, there are higher and more advanced expectations of parents, whereas in rural locations, it is about meeting basic needs.

What led to the recent rebranding of schools under the Birla Open Minds International School brand?

We understood that what really matters is our teachers to be well-trained at the grassroots level. The students  grasp and learn as long as the teacher engage them. So, we have integrated the three brands under the Birla Open Minds International School banner. The rebranding event took place in July this year and now all our current 60 schools will fall under one banner.

Rebranding is still in process. A brand has a legacy of its own so we are crafting it slowly. The online presence is something we are focusing on. Social media has a far-reaching impact, you know, so we are working on that right now as well. 

In five years, our target is to touch 500 schools with a considerable presence outside India as well, especially in the Middle East

What is the modus operandi of the Birla schools?

We operate in different models. One would be setting up schools right from the building of infrastructure to recruiting teachers and enrolling students. We also have a public-private partnership model which experimented with the state of Uttarakhand. The other model which we operate by is the franchise one for which we have a 3-step quality control strategy.

For the franchise option, we have regional operational managers who identify experienced management who can partner with us. We then do the three step process. First, in the beginning of the year we do an orientation for the parents, teachers and students with workshops. Second, the teacher support round where we observe them in the classes and provide feedback and training where required. Finally, the last step is the detailed performance report where we provide feedback on different metrics.

What are your top three priorities for Birla Edutech?

Measuring learning outcomes is something that I am keen on implementing. I hope we can do a performance analysis for the students 5 to 6 years after they pass out.  Ideally, we should cover atleast 80 per cent to 90 per cent of the students for this analysis to see their progress after graduation. Next would be to expand our presence geographically, the team is very driven and talented and that should be exposed to more number of people so that we can impact many lives. Plus, we are working on a joint venture with a technology company where we will roll out an e-learning platform soon.

Where do you see the company 5 years from now?

Our target is to touch 500 schools with a considerable presence outside India as well, especially in the Middle East. As I had mentioned earlier, the e-learning platform is something I am very excited by. It is a very promising vertical. We hope to reach around 15 to 20 lakh students through our online presence.

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