Satish Reddy is the vice chairman, Aditya Group Educational Institution, India. In this interview with Chinelo Chikelu, Reddy unveils the reason behind the institution’s intent to branch out to Nigeria with a range of schools that will include ICT, skills acquisition center, and a college in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
What is Aditya Educational Institution all about?
The group of institutions was started by my father, the chairman N. Sesha in 1984. It has a training center for the government exams. In 1985, it started with schools and then colleges and then ran three-year programmes in architecture, engineering, pharmacy and for polytechnics and then post graduate programmes. Right now, from nursery to post graduate, we have 50,000 students studying in the institution.
How does the college differ from universities in India?
We are a private college affiliated to a government university. So, all the degrees which the students are given when they graduate are government certificates from the government university – Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University.
Are there African students in your institution in India?
Yes, we have had foreign students in the past six years. Today, we have 800 plus students from 12 countries such as Nepal, Afghanistan, Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan, Ivory Coast, Benin Republic, Togo, and Mali. We have been promoting Aditya Group of Educational Institution in the past two years in Nigeria. We have about 150 students from Nigeria. We expect to double that number of students, next academic session in 2017.
Are the foreign students admitted on scholarship? How do you for instance attract Nigerian students to study in the institution?
First, India is known for its quality education. Second, it is more economically viable to study in India than studying, say in the UK or Australia. In Aditya, we are known for our discipline and quality of education in the past 32 years. With about 50,000 students, we are probably one of the biggest groups in the whole of India. So, the attraction is basically, the quality of education and the economic price we offer. The kind of students we are getting from Nigeria are self-sponsored students, and those sponsored by the PET Fernandez Foundation in Nigeria and a couple of oil companies, as part of their corporate social responsibilities to their host country and communities.
Aditya intends to start up a branch in Nigeria. How do you intend to do so?
I have been visiting Nigeria in the past two years and worked to find out interests of Nigerians and the quality of education available. And I thought, “Why don’t we start a school in Abuja, but with the Indian level of education.” I had a meeting with a Nigerian minister because we are planning to set up the school. So, we have been speaking to the government, and the government has promised to give us support, once we start the institution. Plans are ongoing, and in the next five years, we will establish a chain of schools, from kindergarten to college level in Abuja.
To what extent does Aditya Group of Educational Institution assist indigent African and specifically Nigerian students to access education in India collaboration with the PET Fernandez Foundation?
PET Fernandez Foundation had visited our school and done their inspection. And because they are doing for charity what we have been doing suppose for example in engineering course, which costs $5000. On the tuition fees, we give scholarship up to 25 to 30 students in the first year which comes down to $3500. It depends with the foundation we give scholarship to increase the number of students and to ensure the right quality of students is admitted.
How soon would Nigerians expect Aditya Group of Institutions in Abuja, Nigeria?
In my past visits I have studying the country, my meeting with the government official is a recent development. Probably in the next six months we will have a clear look into how we are going to launch Aditya in Nigeria. Probably, in five years, we are looking at a chain of schools, probably 10 to 12 schools in Africa.
Should Nigerians look forward to Nigerian arm of Aditya Group of Educational Institution, India affiliating with universities in Nigeria or retaining its affiliation with the Indian varsity, while operating here?
It is too early to decide. For now, what we are thinking about is starting with the school not with the university. We are looking to corroborate with Central Development Government of India. As we move forward, if the school plans succeed and all the other aspects, probably, we will look at setting up university and post graduate courses. It depends on people’s call and if they want to affiliate with Nigerian universities and so on.
Nigeria has challenges with its economy, and Nigerians would expect courses that would enhance self-employment. What should Nigerian expect from Aditya in this direction?
Apart from the schools, we will be looking at setting up ICT centers, ICT and technological centers, which will enhance the skills of the local youths. You know, currently employment is a big challenge for youths, to secure their future, seeing as the economy is going down. One reason, we are intent on developing the skill sector is for youths who are probably self employed or looking forward to becoming self employed. With the kind of innovative thoughts that we intend to cultivate in the minds of the students, I don’t think employment will be a problem.
So the studies in your proposed development centers will focus on vocational and practical education?
Yes. Apart from the schools, that’s what we are looking at.
What’s the process of entry into Aditya?
They need to have the basic education, or A levels result. After that, the developing of skills does not require any kind of technical certification. Let’s suppose someone wants to enhance his skills in plumbing activities, he just needs six months training in a diploma course. He doesn’t need to have undergo any BSc., mechanical or any technological certification.
How far does a certificate from Aditya take a graduate in the labour market? What are the benefits of an Aditya certificate in the labour market?
If you are looking at the school sector, it is very well accepted. We are in the field of education, we know the courses to deliver and how to deliver, and quality is assured. Coming to the ICT centers and skill development centers, these have already been done in India under the National Skills Development Corporation, which is part of government programme and everything will be replicated here.
Why is Nigeria a choice for the establishment of Aditya Educational Institution, India?
My first time in Nigeria, I didn’t know anything but after that, because we have about 150 students from the country in Aditya, we were able to receive support. That and with the support of the PET Fernandez Foundation, I am known to almost all the people. And because all the students have witnessed the quality of education accessible at Aditya, and Mr Patrick Fernandez, who resides in Nigeria, had inspected Aditya institution, because of this relationship, a certain confidence came into the picture to open in Nigeria.