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Maths muddles no more as Basingstoke gets its own abacus maths school

Local Mum sets up BYITC franchise after daughter wins maths prize

School children in and around Basingstoke are to get help learning maths through a new business start-up.

Mum and software consultant Pragnya Reddy is to open the British Youth International College Learning Centre – Basingstoke, which teaches maths using a counting tool that has been used for millennia – the abacus.

The start-up is the first franchise in Hampshire of Glasgow-headquartered British Youth International College (BYITC), which runs 10 franchises globally – including two in Dubai and Sri Lanka. BYITC launched its franchise model in the UK in December 2022. 

Pragnya will operate the franchise alongside her husband Manjunath B who is also a software consultant. They wanted to start the franchise after her 6-year-old daughter, Nainika Manjunath, won an online maths challenge for mental arithmetic through BYITC’s ‘Supermaths’ National Maths Challenge. This awards certificates and prizes for children aged 4-14 with impressive arithmetic skills across 10 levels.

“Not only was I impressed with Nainika’s performance in the National Maths Challenge, but also by the Games Based fun filled learning experience. I saw that my child was happy to participate fully in the game based, interactive learning because it kept her fully engaged. 

“When my daughter won a national level abacus competition, we had many enquiries from parents about the institute where she was training and the benefits of it,” Pragnya explains.

“This made us think of opening a face-to-face abacus training centre in Basingstoke.

“I’m looking forward to helping as many kids as possible to learn abacus maths. The structure and quality of our teaching methods will help our children academically and also help to grow our business.”

Thought to have been first used by the Babylonians, an ancient Middle Eastern civilization, as early as 2,400 BC, the abacus is known to be highly effective at training the brain to make mathematical calculations involving huge numbers.

BYITC was set up in 2015 by Glasgow mum and computer scientist Dr Rashmi Mantri after she used an abacus to teach her own son basic arithmetic. The business has since diversified from maths into English, programming and cyber security, and offers online courses to thousands of students around the world. The company’s most popular teaching programme is Supermaths, which offers a mix of weekly teacher-led abacus maths classes and online tutorials.

Rashmi said: “I’m delighted to welcome Pragnya to BYITC. It’s clear she sees potential in the business and has had such a great experience as a parent that she wants to teach others.”

At an open day event in Basingstoke last month for BYITC, Rashmi said there were “lots of positive parents and excited children in the room.”

“This has led to other conversations about franchises in parts of London and further North in Manchester, too – so I’m hugely excited about the future of the franchise model.”

BYITC Learning Centre – Basingstoke will be based at Queen Mary’s College in Cliddesden Road, Basingstoke.

Pragnya, who has been working in IT as a software test consultant for more than 10 years, says: “We plan to start the business in Basingstoke and then expand it to other locations in Hampshire. Once the business grows, we hope to introduce English classes as well.”

Basingstoke students are also enjoying participating in the biggest Mental Maths Olympiad alone with the rest of the UK and the Globe. It is open to any child aged 4 – 14 and details can be found here.

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