the teach tour uncovering how & why we've failed to educate children worldwide@theteachtour

trickle down

“Are you here for the student government elections?” She asked me, pointedly. I stared at her as if she’d lost her marbles and replied, “I’m here to see Escuela Nueva.” She nodded and smiled warmly, adding that they would begin at 1pm, and to please return at that hour.

Arriving in the shrunken school exploding with bright minds and beautiful smiles, I slowly allowed my eyes to adjust to the sight before me on the sunlit rooftop. 5 students stood in front of the milieu of boys and girls classes of 4th and 5th grades at Grace Model School, a leading Affordable Private School in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. The candidates held up home made signs displaying “Vote for Me” along with an icon they had designed and the sturdy confidence of a politician. A teacher sat at the front calling each student’s name out. The students jumped up proudly, strolled to the front of the class, and cast their votes for who should become their  first student body president.

In speaking with Deepti Doshi after observing the elections with many hiccups along the way (as is standard operating protocol in most elections), she revealed some challenges she faces in attempting to take a successful product in the Colombian market to fruition in the Indian market. Her product, Escuela Nueva, attempts to empower teachers with materials, resources, and opportunities for school capacity building. The end goal is to create a sense of teacher ownership and desire for reforming the status quo.

The overriding question to be answered here is: Can a proven, successful service or product in one geography, one market, one sector be boxed, replicated  and franchised into various other places?

A similar conversation ensued in the offices of Butterfly Fields with founder Sharat Chandra and Mr. Anantharajan along with the Gray Matters Capital team’s Sarayu Natarajan and Aditya Kumar. In a similar manner, Butterfly Fields has found success in marketing their product to the middle income schools in Hyderabad, but struggles to penetrate the lower income market. Butterfly Fields delivers products to students that allow them and force them to “learn by doing.” Their office is littered with basic everyday items; plastic cups, straws, balloons, & legos that come together to create incredible unique & educational crafts.

The conclusion and solution that both Escuela Nueva & Butterfly Fields came to at the end of the day was that of a trickle down effect: get the middle income reputable schools to adopt the product and in turn the lower income schools’ parents & teachers will take notice and demand the same offerings. This solution does two things: 1. Allows the company to bring in profits earlier on, thus bringing the price point down for lower income schools, 2. Capitalize upon the human desire to want what richer people have.

Is there an insight we as a sector can build upon here? Or are we simply sacrificing our mission of educating the neediest children for the time being so we can stay afloat and find success sooner than later?

5 Responses Subscribe to comments

  1. roclafamilia

    Helpful blog, bookmarked the website with hopes to read more!

    Oct 21, 2010 @ 8:16 am

  2. badmash

    I just signed up to your blogs rss feed. Will you post more on this subject?

    Oct 23, 2010 @ 12:10 pm

  3. Kathryn Lee

    Your blog site is absolutely gorgeous! I’m so happy to see you delving into these questions about how to bring high quality, relevant education to the neediest children in the world. Ismail and Ilaria from Dipin Foundation were recently in SF, exploring these questions and more over the course of many days and many conversations. I’m thinking about it all the time too! They have another creative idea about this – more of a “trickle up” so please be in touch with them and go visit their schools. They arrived in India today!

    Oct 29, 2010 @ 5:52 am

  4. Tweets that mention the teach tour » Archive » trickle down --

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by YourStory, Enterprising Schools. Enterprising Schools said: Read more about the @theteachtour experience that inspired the winning #snaps photograph #education #india [...]

    Nov 01, 2010 @ 9:03 am

  5. Varun

    Very insightful, thanks :)

    Nov 24, 2010 @ 7:26 pm