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Tuesday, 9 October 2012

A New Location: Jaipur

If you’ve been following our project, you may know that of the 150 schools we are launching in Phase 1, 30 of them were supposed to be in Chennai.  We are however unable to implement in Chennai for this phase.  This meant, we had to find a location to implement these 30 schools.  Our biggest question was: Do we just spread the 30 schools across the other existing locations we had selected or do we find a new state to enter?

We very quickly decided that we wanted to select a new location, which was decided based on the following thinking:
  • To maintain the number of states we were entering
  • To keep with our initial belief of wanting to launch in a wide variety of locations to understand the challenges and limitations of different locations
With that decision made, the next question was: Where do we launch these 30 schools quickly?  There were several steps which went into picking out a new implementing location:
  • Initial Decision Factors
    • Content: Our first consideration was on the basis of the content which was ready to be used. In this case we have English content for the Karnataka and Maharashtra State Boards as well as NCERT content for the CBSE board.  We had to stick to a state that had one of these boards, as the creation of content for any other board would take months.

    • Pratham’s Presence: For us to get the project started quickly, we had to go to a state where Pratham was directly present.  It would take time to find a partner in one of the states that Pratham was not present in.
  • With the above criteria in place, we had to next find states that fulfilled them:
    • Speaking to State Heads: We started the exploratory process by contacting the heads of our State teams to see which states would be best suited to host our program. We initially considered the possibility of going to Himachal Pradesh, Punjab or Haryana – which have a great many English medium private schools using NCERT content.
      • Himachal Pradesh – At this stage, Himachal Pradesh was ruled out due to the state's general poor mobile connectivity in the region as it is quite hilly, which is vital for the operation of our program.
      • Punjab – Here, after some discussion with our state team, we learnt that there our target schools were dispersed over a large geographic area, making this logistically difficult to implement.
      • Haryana – After some initial discussion and exploration by our team on the ground, we found Haryana to be a possible site for launching the program.
    • Field exploration: A team member was dispatched to the blocks where Pratham is active in Haryana – i.e. the blocks of Thanesar and Pehowa. Our team spent a few days in the region meeting with school administration and exploring the landscape. Despite initial optimism, it was determined the perhaps Haryana was not the best place to implement the program. This was for the following reasons:
      • Target Demographic – Most privately run English medium schools tend to cater to children from a more affluent socio-economic background than that which we wish to target.
      • Existent Technology Solutions – A majority of the schools we met with have already adopted the smart class model and thus were not interested in implementing our program.
      • Logistical Issues: Although our 30 school target may have been achieved, the low concentration of interested schools meant we would have to include a larger geographic area, again complicating implementation.
    • Re-thinking locations: After re-calibrating our strategy and trying to take into account the various factors affecting implementing in the locations we were exploring so far – the urban area of Jaipur was selected. Once again, we conducted a field visited and found the following:
      • Geographic density – The Jaipur city area has a high density of English medium schools
      • Target demographic – The English schools which were visited in the old city also fit our target demographic well since they cater to the lower income families of the area.
      • Content – Rajasthan has recently switched to following the NCERT board, which perfectly aligns with the content we have prepared
      • Established team – Rajasthan and Jaipur specifically, has a large Pratham presence. The presence of an established team will make it easier to implement the project.
Thus after multi-tiered and prudent consideration we have finally decided that we will be launching the program in Jaipur, Rajasthan.