Fyruz Education Services (FES) is setting a benchmark for educational institutions through the use of technology and specialized counseling.
When Fyruz Khan disclosed his plans to study Education for masters after completing his undergraduate degree in Business & Marketing from De Montfort University, he was laughed off by most of his friends. It did not come to him as a surprise; the true purpose of education has become a bit obscure in our society. Rather than perusing to become enlightened, educational qualifications have become a mere status symbol, an effort to earn bragging rights. However, Fyruz was unfazed; he was confident about his capabilities. His previous experience of working as a teacher at a very young age was the testament of his competency. Many components of life push us into the avenue of our destiny, in Fyruz’s case; it was perhaps the influence of his family. Fyruz Khan is the great-grandchild of one of the greatest Bengalis of all time Dr. Muhammad Shahidullah; there are also many other prominent educators from his mother’s side of the family. His mother had a pivotal role behind his career choice; she inspired him with stories and knowledge about education from a very young age.
After completing postgraduate studies in International Education from the University of Leicester, Fyruz went to America, where he met the enabler of his dreams. Nabila Mahmud, who would later become his wife, gave him the confidence to pursue his dream. Her optimism gave Fyruz the courage to execute his vision. He came back to Bangladesh and founded FES (Fyruz Education Services). He had an ambition in mind; FES was going to be different from mundane educational institutions. FES would set a benchmark for quality education, which also includes personal counseling. Years of research during post-graduate studies made him realize the importance of counseling for enhanced academic performance. He prioritized listening to student’s problems, solve it, and provide them a framework for the future.
In a conversation, Fyruz Khan opens up about how the journey has been for FES and its present accomplishments. He also explicates the importance of counseling for adolescent students and shares insights about the future aspirations of FES.
How does FES differentiate itself from other institutions? What is the role of counseling in your curriculum?
Let me put it into perspective; coaching can be done even at a house; there is no professionalism or business structure. I feel that teachers are like a priest, imparting knowledge unto others. The boarding school I went to was nice; the teachers were excellent, their behavior was good; they had this aura that made the students look up to them. Those perceptions were not available in Bangladesh, so we wanted to change that perspective.
We are very strict, if they don’t come into classes, 15 minutes into the class a call goes to them from the administration department enquiring about their absence. The call goes to the students if we are not able to reach them, then we call the parents directly. This monitoring process creates pressure for the students to attend their classes. When a student is regular with attendance, you can assume that half the battle is won. I feel that grades are not so important. It’s just a benchmark. When the grades are good, access to higher studies is more comfortable. If a student with a poor academic background can achieve an average grade, then I’m happy.
During my research, the hypothesis I reached was that a lot of issues regarding students could be solved via Personal Counseling. By counseling, I am not referring to the traditional kind, but counseling as in guidance, to listen to the problems of the students, solve it and give them a layout or framework for the future, tailoring specific suggestions for a particular hurdle. Counseling is mandatory at FES. Every month there’s one counseling session for every student. That’s how we function; FES was born out of counseling.
How does FES enhance the learning process through the use of technology?
There is an argument that technology will eventually replace teachers. I don’t believe that statement. They will complement each other. For example, yesterday, I was teaching IELTS, focusing on the speaking test before I started the lecture, I showed a video on how the speaking test was conducted. There was also a small lecture on that video. So it makes things easy and more visual. We believe in that. I used another thing, which I’m sure anyone else does, it’s called ‘flipping the classroom’ – it’s a theory of education; it means you will not give any lecture in class. I will record my lecture from here on the phone, and I will send it to all my students. They will listen to the lecture at home; then when they come to the classroom, we solve questions. If they have any questions, they ask me. This is beneficial since it helps us save time. We are spending more time working together and solving problems. I want everyone to use these methods.
Can you please tell us more about FES DASHBOARD?
It’s a course management system. When we started, I wanted to have a system where courses, slides, and notes could be uploaded. It’s an excellent, rigid platform. Even schools don’t make such facilities. We can take fingerprint attendance through this system, courses are uploaded, class routines can be viewed, and messages can be sent, as well as talking to other students. It took us one year to build this system. Each of the students has their own profile. We post everything on that platform. If a student does not have a profile, we have it made immediately. My students can use laptops, Ipads, phones in the classroom, of course not for Facebook, but research.
Please tell us about your partnership with Assumption University, Thailand
It’s a very exciting partnership. The assumption is a much better university now since its inception. The sole reason for partnering with them is that not everybody can afford to go to the U.K. or Canada or even Malaysia. The tuition fee at Assumption is just 4.5 lacs, including food and housing six lacs per year. They have tutors from America and Canada. Bangkok, Thailand has become an international hub of education, multinational companies. They have everything and are now creating a global forum/hub there, which is excellent for students.
We have already sent five students of ours to Assumption. There is an amount of Tk 50,000 that needs to be paid here; it may increase based on the needs of our students. Once we receive the fee, we can start the admission process. After compiling the necessary information and documents, I send them to Assumption. It takes about 2-3 weeks to receive the acceptance letter.
FES recently partnered with Square group to provide their employees with IELTS training, how has the experience been?
It has been a very exciting journey, we trained three batches of 20 nurses each, they were going to America for training, and they needed IELTS for the VISA process. We had to create a different program for them since they were of different background and were not proficient in the English Language. I created a course for 3 months. The journey was very good because I got to see Bangladesh through the eyes of the common people and I could see their struggles, problem and also judge the future of Bangladesh. I seriously think that we have amazing talents, these nurses were great, they were working 12-hour shift, they had families, and they would come here for classes. I would also go there to take classes. It was a fantastic experience. As a teacher, I grew a lot, because I get English medium students and it’s easier to teach them. The challenge was fun for me. We’ve learned a lot, it’s a massive company, and Square supported us in every way. There was no intrusion from them; I taught the way I wanted to. I think Square is a world-class company.
Any plans for similar undertakings?
Yes, we’ve been talking with different companies and organizations specifically for skill development. As you’ve pointed out, English is a skill, so we are talking to people, and we have already partnered up with IDP three months back to increase the quality of English education. We are a reregistered IDP partner, you can register for IELTS here, receive your results here, and you can also pay here. If you are facing any problems, such as with the registration process, you can tell us, and we’ll fix it for you. They (IDP) provided us with a lot of training and sessions to share with us the effective ways of teaching and the latest update on IELTS. We collaborate on different projects. We are also partnering up with a good organization from this sector, to help students to go abroad, as well as counseling for their future aspirations.
What is FES’s vision?
When we started, people did not understand what FES provides. They assumed we were a consultant agency or a coaching center. It’s a beauty that we can be anything. I don’t want to be a traditional school, a university; we want to be something like ‘the brain of all education.’ We want to be like the British Council; we want to create curriculums. We want to work with the government and formulate a more standard curriculum of Bangladesh. I want to help make our curriculum more international. We want to be an organization that is the brain of all educational institutions.