Unputdownable edupreneur

EducationWorld November 2022 | EducationWorld People
-Autar Nehru (Delhi)

AJAY GUPTA is founder-CEO of S.K. Educations Pvt. Ltd, a Delhi-based company that owns the Bachpan Play School and Academic Heights Public Schools (AHPS) brands. Over the past 20 years since Gupta ventured into K-12 education, the number of Bachpan and AHPS franchisee schools has multiplied to 1,200 with an aggre­gate enrolment of 100,000 students mentored by 7,500 teachers.

An indefatigable educator, despite being wheelchair-bound after he was stricken by polio when he was seven months old, Gupta has also co-founded the Sonepat-based Rishihood University (estb.2020) and Prismart Gyan Era Learning Solutions Pvt. Ltd (2013), a company offering e-learning solutions to K-12 schools, and registered the Hum Honge Kamyab Foundation (2018) to promote and provide special needs children and youth access to academic and sports education.

Newspeg. Bachpan is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

History. Gupta’s edupreneurial pas­sage is a story of extraordinary grit and determination — of a differ­ently abled individual who overcame formidable hurdles to succeed. Born into a business family he was struck with polio in infancy and suffered 70 percent locomotive disability. Despite paralysis in both legs and left hand, using calipers, young Gupta attended a local govern­ment primary before transferring to Ramjas School, New Delhi. But with the school providing neither ramps nor elevators, he had to drop out of school and completed secondary school through the National Institute of Open Schooling.

Determined to make his own way in the world of business and indus­try, Gupta experimented with several vocations including retail, chit funds and stockbroking before promoting S.K. Educations Pvt. Ltd in 1999.

However in 2001, as a parent of a four-year-old daughter, Gupta became deeply disillusioned with the quality of pre-primary educa­tion provided by preschools in Delhi. “Well aware that early childhood education is the foundation of all learning, I sold my computer educa­tion business and ventured into the preschools sector and franchised our first Bachpan play school in Jaland­har, Punjab in 2002,” he recalls.

Applying his knowledge of the franchise business, Gupta persisted with the franchised model in his new venture. S.K. Educations doesn’t own or operate any of its schools. Instead, it offers a range of services from market research, curriculum and pedagogy to teacher training to all franchisee schools whose number has grown to 1,200.

Future plans. An inspirational edu­preneur who hasn’t let his disability come in the way of his mission to provide high-quality early child­hood education to India’s youngest children, Gupta is determined to roll out Bachpan preschools and AHPS K-12 schools countrywide under the franchise model. “A precondition of licensing Bachpan and AHPS schools is that they have to be entirely friendly towards differently abled children. Contrary to the popular imagination, India’s 27 million dif­ferently abled citizens, especially children, can be transformed into national resources if they are pro­vided child-friendly education,” says Gupta, whose life story validates this valuable insight.

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