THE NEW PHASE OF GLOCAL IELTS: EXPAND IT TO A SOCIAL ENTERPRISE
- Introduction: The creation and execution of Glocal IELTS
Glocal IELTS is a social project that was officially run in August 2022 by the Amazing Group. Glocal IELTS was founded with the aim to create a liberal art, experienced, realistic, and effective education using English as the prime language. Therefore, the main products of the project are IELTS-based English courses which are innovated and designed to suit multi-aspects of secondary and high school students in rural areas in Vietnam.
The founder and CEO of the project is Ms. Le Thi An Ha who is also the founder of the Amazing Group. She has more than 9 years of teaching experience. Starting from a rural student who lacked English proficiency and had to struggle with English subjects during her college years, Ha has nurtured her desire to create a quality educational system using English as the basis to help students improve knowledge, skills, and mindset, continually transforming Vietnamese education to become a global-ranked educational system. Following this vision, she founded and ran Amazing Group for 8 years, changing the life of thousands of students.
Amazing Group is a center specializing in teaching English and skills with an aim to orient students to become “localized global citizens” or “glocal citizens”. Conceived from the Dream Project Incubator program in 2016, the Amazing Group has inspired and impacted more than 1000 students in Vietnam in terms of raising their English using capacity.
After great effort, Ms. Ha learned that one of the most critical challenges was how to solve the limited English capacity of the English program in rural areas where teaching and learning conditions are lacking in all aspects. This is also the reason why she has determined to pursue and build Glocal IELTS with an aim to train future students to develop the ability to “Think Global, Act for Locals”.
Glocal IELTS is a social project specializing in teaching English and skills based on IELTS standards with an aim to upgrade the curriculum comprehensively so as for underprivileged students to enjoy a quality program. Glocal IELTS provides innovative and scientific-based programs with an aim to solve educational gaps for rural students in learning English for practical use and tackling realistic challenges. In short, Glocal IELTS is an operating innovative enterprise working in educational fields.
- Glocal IELTS business model:
Nevertheless, in order for Glocal IELTS to sustain itself both as a long-term social project and social enterprise, the most important aspect is to define an appropriate business model that allows the project to generate independent cash flow. Therefore, in the next phase, the leaders of Glocal IELTS had to analyze all basic components to choose the most suitable business model.
First, the project had to articulate the value proposition to ascertain its targeted mission. The piloted project has been transforming into an English teaching system with the aim of providing underprivileged students in Vietnam with quality English training programs based on the IELTS test and SDG 17. The unique feature of the program is the integrity of SDG 17 and the official Vietnamese English program in the IELTS training program. Previously, no Vietnamese English center has taken any consideration in linking the Vietnamese English program or SDG knowledge in teaching IELTS. Therefore, students found studying IELTS unrealistic and boring as they could not find any practical use of the IELTS program in their life. Teachers at Glocal IELTS decided to address this issue by relating basic IELTS knowledge with the official Vietnamese English program. Therefore, students were motivated to study when they realized that what they learned would relate to their English education at school. Furthermore, teachers of the project also built the program based on the 17 sustainable development goals of the UN. Through the program, students would find their studies familiar and applicable to their society, thereby being inspired to dive deep into SDG 17 so that they can use their knowledge to solve their hometown problems.
Second, the project had to define the key resources and activities to help establish its visions and missions. As a result of the Industrial Revolution 4.0, the basis of the project is an online platform that has constantly been updated to improve its quality. When accessing the learning platform, students will find the video lessons, the reading materials, the training documents, and a technical supporting tool. Students are also assigned a personal mentor who can follow closely with their studies and provide any essential assistance that students might require. Besides the learning activities, students can also engage in interactive exercises and practical activities so that they can enhance their English proficiency.
As an English program, the main activities are the teaching and training activities. However, all teachers of the program are obliged to engage in a thorough educational training process ranging from curriculum design and evaluation, teaching, training, mentoring, activities processing, and evaluating students’ performances. All teachers will work closely with each other to upgrade the teaching activities and curriculum every year. The most crucial role of teachers is to work closely with their students to design the most appropriate learning strategies based on their learning preferences and personal conditions.
The main customer segment of Glocal IELTS is students from grade 6 to grade 12 in underprivileged areas. The main issues that these students normally face are the lack of essential materials, facilities, and practicing environment. This circumstance is due to difficulties in transportation, insufficient investment, and the lack of quality teachers. Besides, these students also face numerous common problems faced by most Vietnamese students, such as the impractical curriculum, unqualified teachers, and conventional teaching methods. Therefore, the project concentrates on addressing these problems, hoping to bridge the educational gap between rural and urban areas. In other words, the main customer segment shall be students in underprivileged areas.
Currently, the project is known via some of the most common channels such as social networking sites (Facebook, YouTube), connections (through friends and alumni of the program), websites, and printed commercials posted on the notification boards of partnership schools. The main revenue of the project is hourly pay. However, if the project wishes to scale up, how can the project catch more attention from the customer? In what ways can the project earn more sustainable revenue?
- Difficulties of Glocal IELTS in expanding the project’s scale:
Until now, Glocal IELTS has reported significant achievements such as: 100% of students being satisfied when attending our programs, 100% of students earning their desired IELTS scores, 2000 students participating in our programs, etc. However, for an entrepreneurship project to scale up and become a sustainable enterprise, there are critical issues that have to be taken into consideration.
It might be true that the project has been executed successfully on a small scale. However, when scaling up, there are major points that need to be analyzed comprehensively: Internally, scaling up a project is costly: There are lots of costs that need to study when scaling up, like training fees, recruitment fees, quality improvement fees, and supervising fees. Expanding a project means expanding the quality and quantity of workers of the projects: For existing workers, they need more training to improve their knowledge, skills, and mindset from working for a small-scale projects to a larger ones. Furthermore, the project needs to recruit more staffs, which can lead to more serious issues such as conflicts in working benefits, working culture, disagreement, etc. The leaders of the project need to struggle a lot as the conflicts between old and new workers are inevitable. Furthermore, even with a huge amount of testing, there is no guarantee that the success of the project on a small scale will lead to the success of the project on a bigger scale: The risk is gigantic and unpredictable, such as the differences in the conditions, culture, customs, beliefs, etc that can lead to a failure when trying to improve the scale of the project. Furthermore, when expanding the scale of a project, it is nearly impossible to supervise closely all workers. Lots of potential risks can happen in an unpredictable way, such as unqualified work, conflicts, untrustworthiness in reporting, undisciplined, etc. Another noteworthy issue is the difficulty in approaching larger markets. Glocal IELTS needs to create customers’ trust and competes with other brands. In Vietnam, parents do not have much faith in innovative teaching methods as they are afraid to change their children’s studies in an unpredictable way. Therefore, the act of persuading parents to understand and accept these new methods are difficult. Furthermore, there are hundreds of English centers that are well-known brands in Vietnam. To compete with all of these brands is extremely challenging for any English start-up. Therefore, lots of management and execution issues need to be addressed comprehensively when trying to expand the scale of a project.
From all of the aforementioned issues, Glocal IELTS needs to reorient itself from building a qualified curriculum and learning platform to a sustainable enterprise based on customers’ faith in the project and the project’s reputation. There is a great need for qualified human resources, to understand the market and customers to connect Glocal IELTS with local customers who are local students. The project aims to scale up by changing the core focus of the project from teaching English to local students to equip local teachers with qualified English teaching skills.
- Basic analysis of the project’s scale-up plan:
In the next phase of the project, Glocal IELTS decides to create the A+ Teacher concentrating on equipping local teachers with quality management and professional knowledge in teaching English. The project was conceived from the strengths and weaknesses of local teachers and aimed to maximize local teachers’ teaching capacity to become a potential working resource:
- Teachers need to upgrade themselves so that they will not be left back by the teaching tendency.
- Teachers need to upgrade the living quality and teaching quality of their local community.
- Teachers understand the culture and customers of local people as well as students’ learning styles. They need to learn how to make the best use of these features to maximize their teaching efficiency.
- Teachers can sympathize with their students and have enough reputation to earn the trust of students’ parents. They need to learn how to persuade their students and parents to try using new teaching methods.
Therefore, local teachers will become either the connectors or a medium factor to connect Glocal IELTS with local students.
According to the Ministry of Education and Training, a teacher will teach 200 students averagely. Therefore, Glocal IELTS aims to concentrate on training teachers to make them specialized working forces who can be either the representative, the teachers, or the community changers to create a better educational community locally. It will be much more effective than training each individual student as even if Glocal IELTS could train thousands of them, there will always be more students who cannot enjoy the project’s quality.
A+ teacher is a teaching and learning program that shall incorporate lots of innovative educational activities to bring the greatest values to teachers. Specifically, the program will be implemented in a three-stage process as follows:
Stage 1: Integrating English training activities and the modern teaching mindset.
Initially, Glocal IELTS intends to orient teachers to different English teaching methods instead of traditional methods, with the desire to expand teachers’ knowledge, skills, and teaching mindset based on international standards. The program will be scientific-based and purposeful, including various teachers’ training panels, modules, and discussions, guaranteeing to upgrade local teachers’ teaching skills. Detailedly, teachers will be guided to use different models such as the SWOT model to analyze their capacity and detect points that they can improve so that their teaching abilities will be developed. Functional meetings for teachers to discuss and share ideas for classroom practice will also be carried out as the leaders of the projects believe that teachers, just like students, can learn best from their peers and co-workers. Furthermore, teachers will be guided to use more effective, engaging, and interactive teaching activities to help build students’ English knowledge and positive practice activities that are based on language acquisition and language construction theory instead of conventional methods.
Stage 2: Support to effectively upgrade themself in terms of teaching capacity.
The project shall include training programs for rural teachers in IELTS knowledge and skills, of which teachers shall assist rural teachers learning. In addition, to increase the effectiveness of the learning process, periodic tutoring programs shall be organized to provide appropriate reviewing strategies. 24/7 inquiry services will also be provided to all local teachers to facilitate the learning process and full support will also be executed to help rural English teachers to earn appropriate scores in IELTS so that they can not only prove their English abilities to the suspicious parents but they can also teach international English standard to their students.
Stage 3: Leverage teacher qualifications on a global standard by the mentoring program
In this final stage, Glocal IELTS shall include training and mentoring processes for teachers to elevate themselves to the global teachers’ level. First, teachers will be instructed to integrate SDG 17, cultural knowledge, and soft skills in lesson design phases through activities and projects that students will execute. Besides, teachers will be supported to reach out to international students studying service learning in Vietnam such as Nanyang Technology University, and the National University of Singapore. Moreover, teachers will also be supported to register for advanced teaching training programs like Global Teacher, Fulbright English Teaching Assistants Awards, scholarships, and other opportunities to pursue further studies or experiences such as master and doctoral for any further personal and academic developments. These activities aim to help teachers engage, apply, and upgrade themselves on what has been learned from the program to their real teaching activities.
After that, rural teachers will be the ones to inspire and nurture the aspiration to improve the quality of English education for future generations of students through the Glocal IELTS program. Additionally, the leaders of the projects hope that teachers can actively diversify their teaching activities so that students can effectively accumulate knowledge, practice English skills in the long term, exchange cultural knowledge, and aim to develop sustainable education.
- A brief analysis of the current capitals of Glocal IELTS:
Glocal IELTS understands the importance of different types of capital in creating a sustainable project with impactful outcomes. Therefore, Glocal IELTS has struggled to maximize all capitals that can be leveraged under their current circumstances.
Human capital: Glocal IELTS has generated a core team and executive team who are passionate about pursuing cutting-edge education, especially sharing the same vision of promoting sustainable education for the Vietnamese market. All members of Glocal IELTS are capable and experienced English teachers, instructors, and mentors: All of them have earned an IELTS of 7.5 or above, gained experience working in educational fields for at least 1 year, and used to be either mentors or tutors for at least 1 year. Some even gained professional or high-ranked teaching certificates that allowed them to integrate psychological and/or updated research in improving the quality of lessons, instructions, or exercises, guaranteeing that their students can enjoy the most engaging, interactive, and insightful learning process possible. Furthermore, all members of Glocal IELTS believe that quality education should be accessible and approached by all students in underprivileged areas. With the support of an internet connection, every poor student can take quality courses at affordable prices online at reliable platforms. Therefore, everyone at Glocal IELTS has worked hard to digitalize all their materials, activities, and exercises in the form of videos, posts, and online competitions. In the future, Glocal IELTS expects to digitalize more practical English materials that will not only serve as learning resources but also provide students with realistic knowledge, skills, and mindset that are necessary for them in the future.
Structural capital: Glocal IELTS uses the O2O (Online to Offline) model in executing the project. However, until now, the main values of the project are received via online platforms. This is because the majority of students who belong to the main customer segment of the project come from underprivileged areas such as the mountainous and rural areas. It would be difficult for Glocal IELTS to open sustainable classes there. Therefore, Glocal IELTS has conducted most of its activities online through videos, posts, instructional activities, and other practicing activities. Besides, Glocal IELTS also assigns a personal mentor for each student who can instruct students on the most appropriate paths based on their backgrounds, preferences, and conditions.
Relational capital: Glocal IELTS recognizes the importance of relational capital in this contemporary era. Therefore, Glocal IELTS has generated many valuable partners who share the same vision and each partner shall be responsible for supporting a certain aspect of the project. Some noteworthy partners include:
Some partners are responsible for recruiting learners such as Olympia, Robotic, Middle and High Schools in Rural Areas
Some partners are responsible for technology and advanced features in learning English, such as ELSA Speak, Duolingo
British Council and IDP are strategic partners due to the fact that the project uses IELTS as the main basis to improve students’ English proficiency.
Some partners are responsible for IT and Graphics design, such as ARENA Multimedia, and iSPACE.
Some International Schools are partners in sending students to study abroad.
Some partners support the programs to be executed effectively, including local investors, principals, business unions, and local government.
Glocal IELTS also recognizes the potential human resources of provincial teachers and local investors, especially when they are the ones who directly experience the social problems and are most motivated to address them. For teachers, they are easily replaced if they lack essential capacity and cannot adapt to the updated teaching trend. For investors, they have money but they cannot directly influence the teaching processes of the local educational systems. Therefore, they are motivated to spend money on generating valuable profits and social impacts for their locals.
According to a report by the Ministry of Education and Training, a rural teacher in Vietnam has to teach around 200 students/per year on averagely. Consequently, it is impossible for rural teachers to closely follow learners’ progress. Therefore, local teachers can be valuable working resources as they can not only contribute to the teaching programs but also to the curriculum designing processes as they have a deep understanding of the students and their parents’ backgrounds, needs, culture, and learning styles that can support the development of the Glocal IELTS program.
As for local investors, they hold a huge desire to develop the educational system of their hometown. Therefore, they are willing to invest sustainably for positive changes in society. A fundraising call from local investors made by the Amazing School for Glocal IELTS has mobilized 5 investors who are willing to cooperate and expand the program. This is a positive signal to prove that the resources from investors are significant for the project’ sustainable development.
Financial Capital: After all, Glocal IELTS also realizes that financial capital is the most critical capital as it is not only the capital that controls all activities and other capital but also the main aspect that can transform the project into a sustainable enterprise. This is the reason why the project pays lots of attention on attracting investment as well as creating their own revenue streams. Until now, Glocal IELTS has generated a total amount of 5 billion VND as financial capital. The majority of the capital has been invested to buy or rent land and build the local center, operate, market and partnership, build programs and outsource technology solutions. Furthermore, Glocal IELTS has created its own revenue streams, including selling educational products, franchise models and English programs, tuition fee from mass and medium English courses, commissions for cross-sale educational programs and services, and real estate of the education center.
Nevertheless, the potential of the project is still abundant. Until now, the project has gone through the beginning state and started to enter the expanding state. The requirement for expanding capital is also increasing. Therefore, how can Glocal IELTS generate more capital of all types to sustain the next phase of the project? What revenue streams can they create from the scale-up plan? How can they make the best use of their capital in the next phase of the project?
In conclusion, Glocal IELTS has reached a stage in which major expansion can be executed and turn the project from a small-scale, social project into a major social enterprise. However, to reach that stage, many questions need to be addressed: How can Glocal IELTS expand its major constituents to meet the basic requirements of the new phase of the project? How can they expand the capital to prepare for the new phase? How can they call for new investment for the next part of the project? How can they address the difficulties of using capital effectively for the next stage? How can they make use of and expand the capital to turn the social project into a social enterprise?