The idea of starting a school is noble and at the same time it is a warranted social enterprise. It requires immense commitment and dedication of the school promoter or an educational entrepreneur, one should really appreciate the socio – cultural development the investments in educational sector brings in despite the high entry barrier in terms of infrastructure.
School in this age must address the educational needs of the target community and prepare wards for life in the 21st Century.
School concept working wonders in Mumbai might simply fail in Raipur or Delhi. Promoters are expected not to leave no stone unturned to bring in global educational perspectives and the latest technology to the school and lay the ground for the establishment of a sustainable school which would deliver unparalleled education to the target community
I am discussing some extremely common mistakes some of which may seem obvious to identify, but their frequency propelled me to elaborate upon them in this article.
Plain Imitation of other institutions - It is not rare when inspiration unaccompanied by vision leads to blatant imitation. Aspiring school promoters ‘get inspired’ by flourishing schools and despite their best intentions end up replicating it unsuccessfully. Unthinking imitation creates caricatures, not replicas. Be it the choice of design or curriculum or communications strategy, it must be the product of original thinking.
Entrepreneurial overconfidence - Sometimes people who have seen success in any other enterprise(s) tend to apply their approaches to the establishment of the school project as they are bent on to believe or prove that, after all, the success of every enterprise depends on transactional acumen, perfect delegation and frequent injection of resources. This simplistic thinking bolstered by misplaced confidence produces myopia and renders the entrepreneur unreceptive to evident signals of an impending derailment.
Piecemeal approach – Lack of holistic perspective about establishment and management of the school makes the institution far from seamless. It must be remembered that, after all, the whole is more than the sum of its parts.
Extravagance while investing - Many times being resourceful does not come with ownership of resources. I am driven, because of the sheer number of times I have witnessed this, to call it a condition. Skeletons do not develop by ample plastering neither do fractures heal by that, similarly, establishments do not emerge from piling constituents with resources and spending cannot compensate for precise judgment and management. Budgeting school establishment and its sustenance are usually overlooked.
Expecting academicians to deliver financial results – The role of an academician in the school is central, however overburdening them with infrastructure, administrative and enrollment responsibilities usually arrest their academic contributions.
Overestimating the significance of infrastructure - I have said it ad nauseum that importance of sound physical infrastructure cannot be overestimated, yet its primacy over other factors that make a school successful can be, and is, frequently overestimated. Infrastructure must be accommodating the learning spaces required for the 21st century but not at the expense of academics.
Inappropriate Positioning - Positioning the school is a protracted process and is not accomplished by bombardment of commercials and fitful use of mass media. Secondly, claiming things which are more fiction than fact about what the institution is going to deliver is not only counterproductive, it is nearly suicidal.
Overestimating number of initial enrollments - I like to call it superstition. Many school promoters allow themselves to blunder into believing that admissions will automatically pour in as the operations begin. This stops them from preparing to sustain with marginal admissions and makes abrupt breakdown inevitable. Admissions always succeed sustenance, never precede.
These mistakes can be broken down into a thesis of factors that make school unsustainable. I have tried to be conversant in the article hence its brevity. I do not intend to patronize the aspiring school promoters but more than that I do not wish to see educational entrepreneurial accidents that are becoming rather frequent.
Founder & Consultant - School Serv
Vinod Kakumanu heads a team of school services professionals and is an independent commentator on Indian school education scenario. Vinod has assisted school promoters establish 35+ schools besides providing ancillary services to over 1000 schools across India. He envisions a future where quality education is made available to every child of the country. The focus he places on the quality of the deliverables and customer satisfaction has made him renowned in the field of K-12 school education.