“We aim for a judicious combination of contextualised learning and technology from across the world to ensure better learning outcomes,” says Deepak Mehrotra, managing director, Pearson India. In an interaction with FE’s Anirudh Vohra, he says that the big push Pearson India is looking at right now is transformation towards efficacy. “We want to measure the impact we have been making on a learner’s life,” Mehrotra adds. Excerpts:
Pearson has been in the education industry not only as a provider of solutions for junior and high schools but also in professional education…
We have emerged as a pretty strong force in the publishing area so far, but the big push we are looking at right now is transformation towards efficacy. Efficacy as a concept comes from the pharmaceutical industry; for instance, when you take a drug, its efficacy is what the drug is going to deliver—a particular antibiotic will act as a cure for a particular infection, in a particular amount of time. A concept like that in education will ensure the impact you can make on a learner’s life can be significant—that is something we have committed ourselves to. By 2018, just as we publish our financial results, we will be publishing our efficacy, every quarter. That brings us to two new themes. If you have to publish results, you need to measure them, and the only way you can measure them is by going digital. Digital footprint allows you to see what the learner has done, what has worked, what didn’t work, and also creates a very strong feedback loop, which enables you to improve the solutions and intervention. The other theme is to say that if we have to be answerable and accountable for the learner outcome, than we need to play a far more proactive role in engaging with the instructor than we do right now.
How can going digital impact the gross enrolment ratio?
As far as higher education is concerned, over the years many have been talking about how do we move the gross enrolment ratio (GER) from 17-18% to 30%. We have the largest university and college structure in the world, but in order to increase our GER, we need to increase the number of schools, colleges and universities by around 60%. That cannot physically happen in a short period of time; we believe going online or digital is the way to go for immediate benefit. I must admit that we don’t have any big answers or solutions as yet, but that is something we are working on. The other theme is employability. We aim to help prepare people for that, especially those who in the area or commerce or finance.
Do you own schools or manage them?
We manage schools; we don’t own or run them.
But owning schools can make things easier for research & development and trials, isn’t it?
In a surrogate manner, we are already doing the same by becoming completely answerable for everything. In the schools we manage, we do hiring and training of teachers, we decide on the school lesson plan, we plan the right infrastructure for sports, we even plan transportation—so right now we are already doing a lot as part of our school management system.
How many schools are you managing right now?
We are managing 28 schools, with about 30,000 students, spread across the country, from major cities such as Pune, Bangalore, Kolkata and Hyderabad to others such as Bhopal, Jaipur, Manipal and so on.
You have earlier worked with companies such as Micromax and Coco Cola, but now you are working in the field of education. How different is the experience?
It is quite different, in the sense that the impact that you create is far more lasting and rewarding.