What is Income Sharing Agreement (ISA)? How is ISA a convenient and viable financial tool for learners?
Access to quality education has always been dependent on the financial position of an aspirant. For learners, the cost factor has always played a major role in the decision-making process. Several times learners are unable to pursue an educational program of their choice and in turn unable to pursue a career of their choice. However, with the ISA (Income sharing agreement) model, a new ray of hope awaits all aspirants. An ISA model works such that a learner may sign up for a program free of cost, and later (i.e. once the learner gets a suitable job), pay back the service provider the required sum of the course fee. This way, a learner does not face the burden of sky-high course fees and gets sufficient time to fulfill the clauses of the ISA.
At Masai School, every student who opts for a deferred payment – signs an ISA. The ISA model here states that once a student completes the course and gets placed, and only if the student bags a job with a salary package of a minimum of 5 lakhs per annum, the student needs to pay Masai School 15% of their monthly salary for the next 3 years. However, the total sum to be paid back is capped at Rs.3 lakhs. Thanks to this, Masai School this year has witnessed more students from economically weaker sections (EWS) of society benefitting and getting the opportunity to enroll for the programs. Out of the total students enrolled so far, 60.5% of the students are from EWS background.
We believe, with the ISA model in place, talented and deserving learners need not worry about the risk of taking loans or having access to finances without being sure of the outcome.
What are the programs being offered by Masai School and what is the criteria to enroll?
Masai School is reinventing the education space by being completely transparent. The curriculum and the student’s submissions are all open source.
Masai School offers 6-8 month long intensive coding programs that are holistic in nature by including soft skills and analytical thinking training in addition to the tech skills, keeping in mind the requirements of an employer.
Currently, we are offering courses in Android Development, Full-Stack Development and Backend Development. We are planning to launch Frontend Development, Data Science, User Experience design (UX), Frontend & UI Development, Product Management and more programs over the next few months.
Our selection process is transparent, fair and simple. It is based only on talent and motivation, and doesn’t require any educational degree or programming experience. To be eligible for any program the student must have cleared the 12th standard under CBSE/ICSE or any other boards recognised under the Indian education system and must be above 18 years of age.
Since our courses are very intensive and demanding, one of the major attributes that we look for is “motivation to learn and earn”.
Does Masai School have any non-tech background students?
Yes, in the past one year, 56.4% of our students have been from a non-computer science background. Technology is evolving at a rapid pace, and all industries are being transformed. Demand for developers across various technologies is on a continuous rise and it cannot be met by the pool of CS/IT engineers that currently exists.
Professionals of non-tech backgrounds are coming to realize the same. For these professionals, moving to a tech-based job means better income and quality of life. It is this basic reason which is pushing those of non-tech backgrounds to take up tech-based skilling programs.
Keeping these in mind, our focus is to actually bring this opportunity to more and more such people – people who have not had the opportunity or access to the software/IT field.
Any changes made in the curriculum to make it suitable for a non-technical person to grasp?
For a non-tech learner, shifting to a tech-based curriculum can be challenging. However we believe, to learn coding one just needs to have good aptitude i.e. logical reasoning and basic math, irrespective of the educational background. At Masai School, all our modules are designed in such a manner that they start from a very basic level and gradually move on to an advanced level. This way, all learners are on the same page, irrespective of their educational qualifications. If required, learners needing additional teaching assistance, are assigned a technical mentor who will help and guide them on keeping pace with the curriculum.
How is Masai School helping students from Tier 2 and 3 cities in India learn the new skills?
The internet revolution has made access to information an easy task for people living in smaller towns and Tier 2, 3 cities. With this information, we see rising aspiration levels and the want for a better quality life. Thanks to this positive phenomenon, those in tier 2 & 3 cities in India are on a quest for better education and job opportunities. For professionals, a better job opportunity means upskilling, while for students; the need to upskill arises from the gap present in our education system. We have students from 21 states and out of them 68.31% students enrolled are from non-metro cities. In addition to this, our ISA model has also helped more talented students from these cities to enroll in the courses and start paying only after they have been placed above the ISA benchmark.
The pandemic has imposed several challenges for learning continuity. How is the company addressing the issue of low learner engagement?
Given the conditions enforced due to pandemic, everyone has become or is becoming tech-savvy. Luckily, Masai School has been using technology at all touchpoints including interacting with aspiring learners and engaging with the students since the beginning. This has also allowed for a smooth transition to learning from home during this time of an unprecedented crisis.
We have implemented a 3 tier structure for learner engagement:
- Zoom –The video conferencing tool has been used for online classes where students can login for live classes of coding. This tool has been effective in a two-pronged method, wherein, attendance can be marked and the student can receive the required training.
- Slack –The business communication platform has been the point of contact for students on a daily basis. This has remained an easy contact tool for both students and teachers in Masai School.
- Mentor hour –On a weekly basis, students have access to technical mentors – developers working in positions the students aspire to get into. This is in a 1:1 format on a weekly basis over zoom calls. The aim of the call is to broaden the understanding of the technologies they learn in the curriculum in addition to real-world practices.
All the above is in addition to the assignments, projects & assessments during the curriculum which forms the cornerstone of the program. All of these are conducted on industry-standard tools such as GitHub & Hackerrank as well.
For a learner who pursues the full-stack developer program at Masai, what are the future job roles that he/she can expect to get into?
Job roles for a full-stack developer are varied. Below are a few primary roles one can explore post completing a full-stack developer program:
The front end is an interactive portion of a website or the dynamic one. On the other hand, there lies the data-driven server or the backend side of an application.
A full-stack web developer hence can be considered to be a jack of all trades. They have enough potential to carry out the entire journey from conception to completion.
Are there any new job roles being created in this era of evolving technology, due to the pandemic?
With the evolution and adoption of new technologies along with this new remote working regimes, new roles are at the forefront of areas like machine learning and artificial intelligence along with roles in engineering, cloud computing, cybersecurity and product development. These developments are still in the transition phase. The pandemic has clearly shown that there will be several job roles that will eventually become redundant; hence leaving people with not much of a choice than to upskill.