Indian realtor MGF Group and its Dubai joint venture partner, Emaar Properties, are planning to open as many as 100 schools in the country. The idea is to tap the growing demand for international curricula institutes, led by an increasing expatriate population and students preparing to go overseas for higher education.
The two companies, under a body called Emaar MGF Education, plan to open the schools and some universities in various Indian cities in the next seven years. The schools will be run by an independent charitable trust sponsored by the companies, but will have access to the management expertise of Raffles Campus Pte, the tony Singaporean educational institution that was acquired by Emaar last year.
Emaar, the largest Arab real-estate company, acquired Raffles for about $5million (Rs2.2 crore) in September. At present, Raffles runs six institutes including nurseries, business schools and universities, not just in the city-state but also in Indonesia, Hong Kong and Vietnam.
Emmar MGF’s first campus in India is expected to come up in the next two-three years in the tourist getaway of Neemrana, about 120km west of New Delhi. It is not clear whether the schools will use the well-known Raffles brand. They will offer not just local high school examinations, but also the International Baccalaureate.
“With the growth in economy along with the luxury and lifestyle upgrade, the immediate need of society is to look for higher level and good quality education for the next generation,” said Shravan Gupta, executive vice-chairman and managing director of Emaar MGF.
Private education is growing not just in urban India but also in rural parts. A recent report by an educational group said private schooling for the six-to-14 age group in rural India went up to 18.8% in 2006, from 16.3% a year ago. The demand for schools offering international curricula is even greater, buoyed by a huge influx of foreigners moving to India to take jobs in this fast growing economy and schools run by American and British embassies finding it difficult to accommodate their children.
The Neemrana campus will come with an initial investment of Rs100 crore and will accommodate 1,800 students from class five to 12. Most of the schools would be part of Emaar MGF’s integrated townships being built throughout India. The universitities will offer courses in business administration, retail management, arts, hospitality and tourism, Gupta said.
(Aparna Kalra contributed to this story.)