Hyderabad: India’s school-going children are among the highest in the world. However, the quality of education in terms of language learning and skill development is abysmally low. And this is especially true in economically weaker sections of the country. In order to make impact in the lives of students lacking basic language and life skills, Rennis Joseph co-founded Ignis Careers. The Hyderabad-based social enterprise provides capacity-building programmes for teachers in government and affordable private schools and designs curriculum for the students of these schools.
Incepted in 2010 by Joseph and Imma Mary, the enterprises’ curriculum has been adopted by more than 200 schools benefiting nearly 57,000 students and 1,788 teachers. Apart from curriculum design, the enterprise also runs Rural Teacher Fellowship Programme in partnership with Venture Capital Fund -Acumen and HDFC Bank, wherein teachers are recruited from the communities targeted for impact and trained in English skills and teaching practices. They then return to the government schools in their communities to improve the skills of the students attending.
“While pursuing my PhD in JNU, I was part of a project with the United Nations wherein I was coordinating English and employment skills programme for Afghan and Burmese refugees. And in a span of 60 days we could make them industry-ready and confident. This was the starting point for me to start researching on the culture of language and life skill learning in our country – which predominately relies on rote learning. I had few other stints with some colleges in Bengaluru where I saw that PG level students were struggling with English language and had low life skills. Thus, I left my PhD and started doing consulting work for colleges and high schools,” said Joseph.
However, he soon realised that the bigger market and problem lies with students in primary and secondary school level. So his team started designing curriculum to suit the needs of students studying in rural areas and is complimentary to their already existing curriculum. They do a pre-assessment of the school before taking them on-board.
Ignis Careers has recently received $150,000 (approximately Rs 1.06 crore) from Gray Matters Capital under its edLABS initiative. With this funding, it plans to develop a digital platform for imparting life skills training programme targeting first generation learners from low-income communities. The digital platform developed will be a multi-media enabled instruction manual that will help teachers understand instructions clearly and help them create an interactive learning atmosphere in classrooms.
Going ahead, it plans to expand its presence to 16 more centres in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra by FY 2021, catering to 1.08 lakh students through 4,400 teachers across 400 schools in the affordable private school segment and 100 government schools. Currently it has nine centres across Telangana, AP, Odisha and Delhi. In terms of revenue, it aims to close the FY 2018-19 at Rs 3.5 crore, while the last year’s revenue stood at Rs 1.8 crore.