Ashish Puntambekar , a project designer with fortune 500 company was attending the reunion function at his School in India. He noticed a much larger than normal difference in Standards and Quality between the time when he was a student in the school and what he saw around him.
The answer appeared to centre around one parameter “ Drop in Teacher Quality “ and he resolved to set up a small school where the best minds in the teaching profession could find a home.
After the event, on his return to Mumbai, he began an in-depth study on the education sector in India with the objective to properly understand the problem . It turned out that opening a new school was difficult and required several permits from different agencies. Finding the money was the other main problem and anyway the problems within the Indian education system where so huge that a single school made no sense. What was required was a “ Large, Systemic Solution “, especially at the Secondary school level where a huge shortage of 4,00,000 schools existed.
The idea was that if we wanted to build just one school, why not design a large project based on innovative financing to build 30,000 New schools and take one of those under a proper bidding process under a simplified procedure.
It was a call the project designer took … and so the work began.
The main challenge was to come up with a massive financing plan not just to build the project, but also to run it on a sustainable basis without much yearly financial support from either Central or State Governments.
Being a project designer and a specialist in large infrastructure project design helped and by April 2009, the Indian Education Megaproject ( as it was then called ) was born with the publishing of its first draft which was submitted to the Ministry of HRD within the UPA Govt.
This was to be a centrally sponsored scheme wherein 30,000 New Secondary Schools would be built with central assistance & supervision and handed over to State Governments as Education is a State Subject under the Indian constitution.
The project, as designed, would have the capacity to reach 126 Million additional children across 29 states and 7 Union Territories, using a hub and spoke model and by making large scale use of Information and communication technologies ( ICT ).
The Education Megaproject was fully revised and re-published after detailed calculations were performed to arrive at total constructed cost. Prominent schools of architecture featuring low cost designs were also contacted. The project was re-submitted to the Ministry of HRD within the UPA Govt.
The Education Megaproject, Now named the “ Vivekananda Secondary Education Megaproject “ is in its current form, a far more advanced design than the earlier June 2010 version.
For starters the entire project has been re-configured with a far more intensive use of Information and Communication technologies ( ICT ) that greatly reduce operational problems.
The entire financial design of the project has also been re-worked both for raising project construction Capex as well as project Opex. The financial plan has been examined by three senior chartered accountants as well as senior officials within a financial institution. We therefore have a more robust financing plan.
The 2nd revision was submitted to the Ministry of HRD under the NDA Government on 11th February ‘ 2015.
The current focus within the Vivekanand Secondary Education Megaproject and indeed the Nataraja Foundation is on five small and very well defined pilot projects that will help launch the Megaproject within the Govt. of India.
The current focus within the Nataraja Foundation is on five small and very well defined pilot projects that will help launch the Vivekanand Education Megaproject within the Govt. of India.