Although Manisha Tallurit and Poorna Kamireddy are both from South India, they did not meet until they came to Halifax to start their new life as Canadian permanent residents. The two newcomers met at a festival gathering at a local temple in 2018. Over a cup of tea, Tallurit said, they quickly bonded over conversations around parenting and different expectations they had from the educational system for their kids.
"When we arrived in Nova Scotia, the education system (here) is good, but at the same time, the kids needed extra support," Tallurit said.
The two young moms started to brainstorm a business idea on a tutoring school that can provide supplementary, personalized schooling for younger students.
Kamireddy said when she first arrived in Nova Scotia, her fourth-grade daughter was getting "bored" at school.
"When she came here, she said 'mama, I know this; I know that; I know everything the teachers are telling me. I want to learn something more,'" she said.
Kamireddy was a kindergarten teacher for years before coming to Canada, she said her extensive experience as a teacher makes her worried as a parent.
"As a parent, I started thinking what if unlearning happens? In a student's life, the learning curve should always be higher. As a teacher from India, I see the learning curve going down. And that worried me a lot," said Kamireddy.
Tallurit said coming from a culture that has a much stricter and more competitive education system, the importance of education for their children is ingrained in their minds. Tallurit said the education system here in Canada is almost too "relaxed", she finds.
Before coming to Halifax, Tallurit worked as a PR consultant. After landing in Nova Scotia in 2017, like many other immigrant professionals, there were a lot of hoops for her to jump through to establish her professional credibility in Canada. As a result, she stepped away from her previous occupation and worked as an administrative assistant for a small local business owner, who she said motivated her to start her own business.
Since COVID started, Tallurit had to reduce her working hours and Kamireddy stopped working completely. The lockdown, they said, prompted them to take action on the business idea.
"Going to work every day was like a routine formed (before the pandemic) and the lockdown gave us time to take a break from the daily routines and it gave us time to think about our interest," said Tallurit.
It took a few months for the two partners to complete the incubation process and find Eye Level, a global education company founded in Seoul, South Korea.
"When we saw Eye Level's curriculum, (we think) it was more robust in nature. It's not only just mathematical concepts. It has the analytical and critical thinking aspect attached to it," said Tallurit.
In November 2020, Tallurit and Kamireddy opened the first Eye Level centre in Atlantic Canada. The global tutoring company has centres across North America and offers supplementary education service in math and English to kids between six and 15 years old. Before starting the course at the centre, every student is asked to complete an assessment test to determine their current academic level. Once the test is completed, the student is matched with no more than five other students who are on the same level.
Kamireddy said the tailored courses and the small classroom are what spoke to them as parents who are bent on personalized education.
"It is more of a personalized education system, the child is given a different set of books based on their assessment test," said Tallurit.
Lu Xu, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle Herald