Feeds

Firm offers Indian maths graduates by VoIP

All-the-the-boffin-you-can-take at a flat rate price

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

The chairman of an online-tutoring startup connecting Indian graduates to Western schoolchildren by VoIP says he is not engaged in outsourcing education.

"This is about how you can get what is available to the rich, available to the common man," Krishnan Ganesh told the Guardian yesterday.

Ganesh's service, Tutorvista, recruits Indians with good degrees and language skills who live in remoter towns and will therefore accept lower wages. The company pays its tutoring staff just over £1.50 an hour; whereas a self-employed London tutor with a maths-based postgraduate degree can charge £50 an hour.

There's clearly some margin there. Eighty percent of the lessons Ganesh has sold have been maths ones, according to a Times article last month: perhaps reflecting the worsening shortage of mathematics knowledge in the UK.

And it is worsening. Consider this from the BBC, which suggests that UK science undergrads sometimes don't know how long the hypotenuse of a right triangle with 3m and 4m sides might be. Kids don't know maths: and there's some evidence that teachers don't know science either.

Ganesh told the Guardian that the UK merely had a "gap" in its schooling, whereas America had an "educational crisis". It seems clear he was merely being polite, however.

This may not be so much a case of outsourcing education to India, as buying back in expertise which we have mostly lost. Very cheaply. And in fact, Ganesh prefers to characterise his business as "using global resources for global markets." He says he's planning to offer Spanish language tutoring using Mexican tutors, for instance.

Just how much money Tutorvista could make isn't clear, as it doesn't just make use of broadband technology but also adopts a broadband-style pricing model. The service charges a flat rate (£50 per month in the UK), for which users get access to "unlimited" tutoring. Schoolchildren with a real hunger for knowledge could conceivably blow Ganesh's business model out of the water; but they would need to spend at least an hour with their online oracles every day.

Some might say that £50/month isn't exactly making stuff available to the common man. On the other hand, a fair number of people in the UK pay that sort of money just for TV, so Tutorvista could easily go mass market.

It isn't just Ganesh who thinks that paid-for online education could be big, either. Publishers are nosing around the idea, and companies like Pearson already offer internet resources. They don't have Ganesh's Indian personnel or scalable VoIP/tablet technology platform yet, but it may not be long before they do.

It could well be that a lot of pushy middleclass parents will cough up their £50/month to get their kids access to a teacher who actually knows some maths. The ones in the UK probably wouldn't have minded getting at least some of this kind of service free with their licence fee, in fact, but the BBC's free-at-point-of-use Jam knowledge service was torpedoed last month after complaints from unnamed paid operators. ®

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

More from The Register

next story
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
Microsoft unsheathes cheap Android-killer: Behold, the Lumia 530
Say it with us: I'm King of the Landfill-ill-ill-ill
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
Oh girl, you jus' didn't: Level 3 slaps Verizon in Netflix throttle blowup
Just hook us up to more 10Gbps ports, backbone biz yells in tit-for-tat spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.