Amreesh Chandra, the group president of Gems India, part of the Dubai-based group that has 175 schools in India and plans to have 3,000 budget schools there by 2022, talks about the potential for India’s education sector.
What do you think of the standard of government schools in India, which are widely criticised for low standards?
It gives my affordable Gems schools an inherent market because there is a graduation of those parents who are aware of the education they want their kids to have. Also, as the largest private education provider in the world coming to India, we are now in conversations with government and government agencies, where we are trying to work hand in hand with them in trying to build up and better provide education in the Indian government schools. On September 5, we signed up with the government of Rajasthan where we have adopted a few of the schools and we are working with them in partnership for a better academic delivery in their schools. States are aware of the problem and they are open to a public-private partnership.
Could you talk about some of the synergy you have with India as a UAE-based company, given the large Indian expat population in the Gulf?
The idea here is why India is a focus for Gems. The growth of Gems has been from within the UAE and the Middle East. But we now know that with the kind of market in India and our knowledge of education, we are best equipped to address the market. We shall now use the platform of India to be the largest education company in the world. In the UAE, we run schools that are also affiliated to the Indian boards and we also run international boards. We are well-equipped to address what the parent community is looking for in India.
Could India attract more students from abroad?
The prime minister [Narendra Modi] has the initiatives Make in India and Skill India. But it should be Educate in India first. The kind of positioning India has globally, we are in the perfect position to become the intellectual capital of the world and the new education destination.
What are the biggest challenges you face in India?
I think it’s the availability of infrastructure. When you want to grow at the speed that we want to grow, you can’t do a [new] project every time. You need the kind of infrastructure to be readily available that you can acquire and start a school.
What other plans does Gems have in India?
We are still to come up with an international school. We want to do an international world academy. We are looking at Mumbai, Pune, Jaipur. We’re exploring those projects.
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