27 nov The Bilingual Business in Times of Crisis
It is a fact that the crisis has arrived at schools in Brazil. There is usually a delay in the effect of the crisis on regular schools compared to other businesses, especially because parents resist to make any changes in their children’s education, unless there is no other option after they have cut all other less important expenses. But the longer the crisis lingers, the more likely it is for the regular schools to start feeling its effects. This is happening now here.
This year, one million students have migrated from private to public schools. That’s more than 10% of the total number of students in private education in our country. Unfortunately, this migration is not happening because the quality of public education is increasing, but yet simply because parents cannot afford private schools for their children anymore.
However, we always hear that in times of crises there are opportunities for us to take advantage of. What are the opportunities out there? My point is that bilingual education is a huge opportunity right now for schools to create competitive advantage and make a step forward, with great chances of getting out of the crisis stronger and ahead of their competition.
Bilingual Education is trendy in Brazil these days. There is an increasing demand by parents on schools that offer bilingual education programs of any kind for their children. More than that, being bilingual has become an important characteristic for the 21st century citizen to succeed. Experts say and researchers continue to show that bilingual children benefit from it and perform better in many aspects at school and in life than the monolingual ones. Parents want the best for their kids. So if there is evidence that bilingual education can make better prepared citizens for the future, they want to offer this to their heirs. Also, being able to offer a school that could prevent kids from having to go to another school, a language school, to learn English or any other language, is highly desirable, because it saves time and money for families.
In average, parents who invest on language schools for their children to learn a second language spend between 2,500 and 4,800 Reais a year per child. That’s one of the evidences private schools could have their own parents spend much more money in them, if there is a bilingual education program offered for the kids. It is cost effective and logistically much better and safer for parents to leave their children longer hours at school for a bilingual program, than having to move them from one school to another. So why don’t school owners start implementing bilingual programs right now?
School management and school owners, most of the times, come from a pedagogical background. They are educators, most of the times excellent educators. But they lack the vision of business. So when schools start to think about implementing a bilingual program, they usually make a serious mistake: they confuse expenses with investment.
Very often when school owners come across the costs involved with the contracting of a bilingual program they think of charging more from the parents for them to absorb the costs related to this implementation. But in times of crisis, parents are very sensitive to any extra charge. School owners know that; so charging more from the parents is not an option. That’s when the mistake occurs: schools see the contracting costs of a bilingual program as an expense, and since they cannot transfer these “costs” to the parents, they do not want to absorb them. So what do they do? Nothing. Wait…
For any business to grow, to be established or maintained, investments are essential. And any investment made will not be paid off immediately. But it will pay off, providing you do what you have to do: invest wisely and strategically, based on the needs of your market, and having a close eye on your competition and their moves.
Starting a bilingual program in your school is an INVESTMENT, not an expense. It has the potential to bring more to schools: more money, more students, more prestige, more visibility. Make no mistake: in the near future ALL schools in Brazil will offer some sort of bilingual education program. Your decision is to step forward and be ahead of your competition, or wait and stay behind. Waiting, doing nothing, will NOT let your school in the same place. It will make you step back, because there will always be someone who WILL invest. And those who invest in times of crisis will get out of it stronger and ahead of you. Think about it.