A group of non-resident Indians in the UAE have formed a new holding company called the Pace Group to invest in developing new schools, colleges and professional educational institutions in the Middle East and India.
Dr P A Ibrahim, chairman of the newly formed Pace Group, said it has been formed with a long-term plan to expand the network of schools, colleges and other educational institutions in the UAE, other GCC countries and India. As a prelude to competing with leading Indian school groups like Gems and New Indian Modern Schools (Nims) under the Varkey group, the Pace group will be setting up new schools in Dubai, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
“We have just completed a new state-of-the- art school project in Sharjah called the India International School, which provides CBSE international syllabus and Montessori courses. Indian students and students of other nationalities study there. Currently, India International School, Sharjah, Gulf Asian English School Sharjah and India International School, Kuwait are among the eight educational institutions under the Pace group.
“The Varkey group’s Gems school was started in the 1980s and the New Indian Modern Schools (Nims) opened in the 1970s. These are pioneers in the field of Indian schools here. We started the first school here in 1981 with just 17 students with the help of investors from Bhatkal, Karnataka and Kasargod, Kerala. We did not have many English educated people in those days, but we came together to promote the first such school here,” he said.
“In Saudi Arabia, the Saudi General Investment Authority (Sagia) is encouraging more private schools and educational institutions and the Pace group will establish a network of schools there,” he added.
Ibrahim, who is also managing director of Al Shamali Group, Dubai , said. ”We established the first non- resident Indian educational venture back home. Now we have an alumni of 10,000 students who are well placed.”
“We recently joined hands with other investors to establish the Rims International School in Kannur, Kerala. This school, on 7 acres of land, can accommodate 500 students. Similar plans are being worked out for other regions of India,” he said. P A College of Engineering has a huge campus on 60 acres of land in Mangalore.
“We are currently considering various proposals for setting up schools, colleges, both engineering and medical. A minimum 10 million rupees is needed to establish a new medical college in India. We currently run the PA College of Engineering, Mangalore, PA Polytechnic, Mangalore, PA First Grade College, PA Pre University College, PA Post Graduate Department of Business Management, all in Karnataka,” he said.
India International School Kuwait, which had 600 students when the group took it over, now has 3,400 students.
Dr Ibrahim, who is also co-chairman of Malabar Group, is a major shareholder of Malabar Gold, a new chain of jewellery shops that has expanded rapidly in India and the Middle East.