School’s in for couple

Pair open learning centre after its program helped their son succeed

Parents Sundip and Chani Makani were so impressed with how their son’s grades improved they bought a franchise from the company that helped him.

The Makanis enrolled their 16-year old son in a tutoring program when they saw his grades starting to slip into the low 60s.

“That didn’t work for him,” says Sundip. “We were really worried.”

After being recommended to the Oxford Learning Centre in their area, the Makanis saw a marked improvement in their son’s grades.

Within a year, his average was 80 percent.

“We were just amazed,” says Sundip.

That planted the seed for the Makanis to start on a new business venture. In early April they opened their own Oxford Learning Centre at Leslie Street and York Mills Road.

They say they couldn’t be happier.

Sundip says Oxford isn’t really a tutoring school, and that’s where he thinks other institutions fail.

“The children don’t really learn to process the information they are given,” he says of the Canadian curriculum.

Much of what is taught at school is via rote learning and memorization as opposed to making information relevant to what the students know, he says.

Though his son is a clever kid, Sundip says he didn’t know how to study and learn.

“He just got by on remembering what the teacher said.”

What the Makani’s team does at the centre is try to build up the students’ cognitive skills so they learn methods of organization and more.

“It’s called learning how to learn,” says Sundip.

The system worked for their son because it made him motivated to learn and gave him confidence, says Chani.

Sundip says the Oxford method is highly individualized.

After a standardized assessment the pair are able to get an idea of why the student isn’t doing well in certain subjects.

Based on the results they put together a learning plan for the student that is in turn approved of by Oxford’s head office. Lesson plans are individualized to the day, Sundip says, and the student’s progress is constantly tracked.

“The system is air tight,” says Sundip.

But the learning centre isn’t just for struggling students. Thirty percent of their clients are strong students who want to improve certain skills or grades.

An entrepreneur, Sundip won small business award from Mississauga Board of Trade in 2005 and was a business owner in his wife’s native India before moving to Toronto in 1998.

Working in a franchise model hasn’t quelled his visionary outlook.

“I’m doing a lot here my way and (head office is) happy about it.”

He’s adapted the model to suit the demographics of the surrounding community by marketing to apartment buildings, and he’s also planning on ramping up awareness of the centre’s ESL programs as the area could use that kind of programming, he says.

About this article:

By: Kelly Gadzala
Posted: May 11 2010 10:53 am
Filed in: Business
Edition: Toronto