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Dr Rahul Kamat, Managing Director
Dr Rahul Kamat, Managing Director

Vidyasagar plans to reintroduce intensive training sessions for ?Gulf-based students and help them enrol in esteemed colleges in India

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Published: Sat 15 Aug 2015, 2:47 PM

Last updated: Sat 15 Aug 2015, 4:51 PM

Back in the early 1990s, Vidyasagar Classes, a leading Indian coaching institute in Mumbai, ventured to the Gulf to offer special sessions for students aspiring to enter prestigious colleges including the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). It had opened four branches in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Doha.
"We had tie-ups with Indian schools in these four cities and offered coaching for CBSE students from Grade 9 to 12," recalls Dr Rahul Kamat, Managing Director, Vidyasagar Classes. "We'd taken teachers from India to the Gulf to coach the students. We had more than 200 students undergoing coaching at these institutes. We were also planning to open a centre in Muscat."
Thanks to the special coaching, students from Abu Dhabi had successfully passed the IIT entrance exam, recalls Kamat. However, three years later, Vidyasagar Classes ceased its Gulf operations, as it was a resource-intense exercise and became unviable, he says, adding that it was difficult to get teachers from India.
In fact, Kamat had interviewed about 100 teachers from all over India before venturing into the Gulf. Later, a dozen of them were brought to the region to take the classes.
Now 15 years later, Kamat is once again thinking of catering to the needs of Gulf NRI students, but this time through the franchise route.
Started in 1985 by his father Surendra Kamat, Vidyasagar Classes to date has 8,000 students enrolled in its programmes across 15 locations in western India.
"We are looking at expansion plans across the country through the franchise mode. But we do not want franchisees to think only in terms of return on investment. They need to be genuinely interested in education," he adds.
Coaching classes are a big business in India. Kamat points out that with a limited number of seats at IITs, engineering and medical colleges, students need additional coaching to crack the entrance tests to these institutions. "A fundamental dictum in education is assessment drives learning. Unless there is a test, a student does not prepare," he says.
Coaching classes are focused. It helps students pass entrance tests and ensure they are among the privileged few who get admission into prestigious institutions.
In cities such as Kota in Rajasthan, which has emerged as a major contributor to the top IIT joint entrance exam rankings, coaching classes are massive. These are spread over five-acre campuses, each with a score of multi-storey buildings. Some institutes have 20,000 students each, undergoing coaching round the year.
In fact, about 200,000 people appear for entrance tests to get admission to one of these coaching classes. Interestingly, there are coaching classes in Kota that train students so that they can gain admission to main coaching classes, says Kamat.
He feels it is better for students of Gulf-based students to undergo coaching in their respective cities instead of coming to India. "The price of being disconnected from parents when you are in the Grade 9 to 12 classes is a big price to pay," he says. "In the absence of parents, it is difficult to excel. We recommend the students stay at home and take coaching in the Gulf itself."

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