Mumbai : Entrepreneur Ronnie Screwvala is set to enter the education sector with U Education, an online portal focusing on higher education. It will be launched by the end of this year.
Screwvala plans to use an initial outlay of Rs 100 crore to develop content, interactivity, the platform, technology, assessments, adaptive learning, marketing and in building a national footprint.
“India has the largest college-going age cohort in the world. Yet, only one out of five of them enrol into higher education, resulting in one of the lowest higher education enrolment ratios, even among developing nations. If we have to meet our gross domestic product growth targets, we need to at least double the participation rate immediately. Otherwise we will miss out on our demographic dividend,” said Screwvala, on his first ground- up venture.
The net worth of the Indian education sector is a little over $70 billion. Of this, higher education — undergraduate and postgraduate study, along with doctorate courses —accounts only for $11 billion. Screwvala said their plan is to have a diverse set of offerings in disciplines including management, law, marketing, finance, technology and engineering, among others, as well as entrepreneurship and new economy expertise to cater to the growing sectors of sports, media, fashion, travel, hospitality and tourism.
The rest is broken up as follows: $40 billion from pre-school and K-12 (kindergarten to Class XII); $4 billion from vocational education; and another $15 billion from the ancillary and support services, such as tutoring, uniforms and books.
The sector needs investments of over $200 billion between 2015 and 2020 to bridge some of the gap and to achieve the desired standards of quality.
Mayank Kumar, who has a decade of experience in the education sectors across India, China, Latin America, Southeast Asia, West Asia and Africa, will join U Education as co-founder and managing director.
An Indian Institute of Technology graduate with an MBA from Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, Kumar is at present the vice-president at Bertelsmann India Investments, a corporate venture capital fund focusing on the digital and education sectors.
He said: “Our goal will be to foster the next level of education and train the next generation of the Indian work force.”
Aiming to capitalise on the increasing demand for digital learning and online education, U Education will use technology to exceed the experience and rigour of campus-based programmes, while focussing on employability.
Screwvala said their plan is to have a diverse set of offerings — from popular disciplines such as management, law, marketing, finance, technology and engineering, as well as entrepreneurship and new economy expertise to cater to the growing sectors of sports, media, fashion, travel, hospitality and tourism.
Asked about plans to have a private equity investment, Screwvala said they were committed to building the business without any distraction of external fund raising for three to five years.