Published: 11th May 2020
Hate Maths and Science? Chennai-based EdTech platform AhaGuru makes it easier for kids to learn with their live online classes
Founded in 2012, AhaGuru, an EdTech platform is now on a mission to simplify learning for school children and improve the way in which Science and Mathematics is taught across India
Did you find mathematics or science complicated or hard as a kid? I guess we all hated it at some point. But what did we do to improve that? In 2012, Gomathi S and Dr Balaji Sampath, both of whom have worked in the field of education for over two decades already, sat together and thought about the same thing. And they came up with a solution to make these subjects more interesting to young school students — they founded Chennai-based AhaGuru, an EdTech platform that focuses on conceptual learning through experiments.
AhaGuru conducts mathematics and science classes online for students from classes 9 to 12. "Prior to launching AhaGuru, both of us were involved with non-profits which focuses on the improvement of learning quality, working in the field of education past 15-20 years, we realised that science and maths students were finding the subjects very difficult. They start hating maths due to the lack of understanding of the beauty of the subject, or the concepts. We thought we should do something that excites the students to learn more about these subjects, that's what we do with AhaGuru. In 2012, we started AhaGuru which focuses on how every topic can be made interesting and easy for students with a special focus on skill-building," says Gomathi.
Before setting up AhaGuru, Gomathi also founded Eureka Schools, a model for innovative teaching in rural areas of Chennai and that model acted as the base for this EdTech platform. "We saw that the problem is quite widespread as you also do not get good quality teachers who understand the subjects well enough. We decided we should start something that with the help of technology we can directly reach the child," adds Gomathi. Dr Balaji, who also conducts classes on the platform, has been in the education space for about 30 years. He founded AID INDIA in 1997 and has educated over two million village children and trained more than 4,000 teachers in science and math across 2,700 schools.
AhaGuru focuses on Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and they also prep students aspiring for IIT-JEE and NEET examinations. They have foundation courses for Classes 9-10, for 11-12 is the complete package for JEE, Neet. "At AhaGuru, we do a lot of research to understand what difficulties the children are facing. For example in lower classes, starting from KG to Class 5 there is a lot of research done by Maria Montessori, about how children learn and what problems they face in that age group. But when it comes to middle, high school, science and maths there is hardly any research done on these topics to see how they are learning. Many of the EdTech companies focus on generating the same content and not doing much research, taking the already available content and delivering it through technology. We are not saying technology is bad but what is more important is it should be used to reach a larger audience but content needs regular updates," says Gomathi, while explaining how they teach students at AhaGuru.
Children will find it easier to grasp when they are taught through visualization and fun experiments. "We show them what it is instead of learning just the facts. What we do is wherever possible we introduce a concept with an experiment, once that is done they have a mental picture. The second step is problem-solving. The first lectures will include concepts, one key idea/concept, after that, we will give them solved examples, then practice exercises that will have a variety of questions. We focus on skills, structured in a way for them to understand the concepts and apply them to solve problems," she adds.
Based in Chennai, AhaGuru has two streams — a mentored learning programme and live online classes. The mentoring programme provides students with a personal mentor to track their progress and clear their doubts about a subject. The live classes help students to directly learn from expert teachers. They also have recorded video courses which students can access at point according to their convenience — this will just not include the live classes. The students are provided with books to practice, mentor, and other study materials. They can take what they want, like if they want just Physics then they can opt for that alone, doesn't have to take the entire package. The live online classes take place every week for a span of three hours.
AhaGuru charges Rs 24,000 per subject per year, inclusive of books, materials for the live online classes. The recorded video courses are offered for Rs 15,000 per year, per subject. "If a student doesn't want mentor support, books, doubt clearing then we charge about Rs 6700 for buying the video classes alone. They can learn at their own pace," says Gomathi.
At AhaGuru, they have a fixed group of teachers who are experienced, dedicated and have been in the education field for decades. They also cater to students who might be attending several coaching classes already but come to them for earning the concepts. "We have been getting great responses and people refer us to their friends. We have been doing well as word of mouth has been the trick for us. Currently, over 5,000 students have taken up for online classes and we are trying to scale up so that we can reach out to more students in the upcoming days," concludes Gomathi.