March 23rd, 2016
Image Courtesy: sir.tv
The Avanti learning centre has been shaping young minds aspiring to study at India’s top colleges by offering-them high-quality education. Started by IIT alumni, Avanti is aiming to bring a revolutionary change in the education system of India. With the help of technology, video contents and detailed instructional design, the teachers at Avanti delivers high-quality lessons in the most remote corners of the nation, which is not always available in government low-cost schools and colleges.
The Logical Indian spoke with Krishna Ramkumar and Akshay Saxena — co-founders of Avanti. They talk about their progress, inspiration and future goals regarding Avanti.
1. How many students have benefited from Avanti’s programs so far?
We’ve served 4,500 students in the past 4 years. Over 60% belong to government schools and communities that cannot afford expensive coaching programs. In the next 5 years, we aim to be teaching 1 lakh students every year.
2. What have the alumni of Avanti went on to become?
We’re only 5 years old, so all of our alumni are still in college. Avanti alumni have been admitted to some of the top universities in India, from the IITs to NITs. Last year, one of our students from Kanpur got admitted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on a full scholarship!
3. What was the inspiration behind Avanti?
The inspiration behind Avanti came from our personal experiences at IIT Bombay. Both of us come from educated, middle-class families. Most of our peers at IIT also came from similar levels of privilege. We were inspired by the work of Prof. Muhammad Yunus of Grameen Bank, who had demonstrated that innovative market-based approaches had the potential to transform the lives of thousands of low-income families. We felt deep about the inequity in opportunities in higher education in India and the scale of the problem provided an ideal opportunity for disruption through a non-traditional approach. Besides, the work of great organisations like Super 30 and Dakshana Foundation has shown that with the right guidance and teaching, children from disadvantaged groups can study at India’s top colleges and perform exceptionally well in their careers.
4. How is the concept of “Peer Learning” technique is being implemented?
The conventional lecture method of teaching requires teachers to spend most of their classroom time speaking from memory and explaining concepts on a board. Most students are not engaged in such settings and learn very little. Peer Learning provides an alternative to lecture-based teaching.
The pedagogy was pioneered by Dr. Eric Mazur, Dean of Applied Physics at Harvard. The key shift is to
● Move information transfer outside the classroom (read at home or watch videos)
● Limit “lectures” in class to 8min
● Follow lectures with ConcepTests – objective questions where the students vote and then debate
● Spend at least 50% of classroom time on solving problems individually and in groups
5. How many Avanti centres are there in India?
We currently operate in 25 such towns in 11 states. We want to scale our reach out to small towns in every state across the country, outside of traditional coaching hubs. Our goal is to reach 100,000 students over the next 5 years.
6. How is Avanti planning to evolve in the future?
We want to keep focusing on schools and we want to make sure that we become the best and largest provider of science and math education to school-age students in the world. Already our scale and process gives us the unique opportunity to apply the best learning methods simultaneously to thousands of students and sees them work and improve learning. For the next five years, you’ll see us continue to focus largely on schools and on coaching. We may become a university but more likely for teachers! At the scale, we will be training thousands of teachers each year.
The Logical Indian commends the work of Avanti Learning Center. The education system of India is in much need of reforms and the success stories of Avanti tell us why the reforms are important. We wish Avanti all the very best and continue to bring about positive change in many more lives of students.