In the last few years, India’s Edu-tech sector has witnessed an exponential rise. The industry is believed to have received a $16.1B in VC funding, a 32X increase from 500M received in 2010. The growth spurt in this industry is driven largely by K-12 Segment, higher education, and upskilling categories.
However, with the pandemic over and the schools getting opened once again, the attraction toward Edu-tech apps and companies is eroding.
There are multiple reasons behind the tapering of excitement towards the Edu-tech sector. First and foremost is that probably the students realize in a month or two that they are not able to complete the online courses because their fascination with them erodes slowly and there is no penalization if one does not attend the class.
Unlike the physical schools and colleges, where one is supposed to have above 75% attendance in order to become eligible for exams, there is no penal provision in online education. Moreover, the degrees or the certificates provided by Byju’s, Unacademy, etc. are allegedly assumed to be of no official value, so even if these companies put penal provisions against those who ‘bunk classes’, it doesn’t make a difference to the students.
For the Edu-tech companies, the consumers of their courses are customers, not students. So, there is very little student-teacher relationship that students develop in physical schools or colleges. As long as one is paying the course fee, it works for the Edu-tech companies.
The extensive courses offered on ed-tech platforms are only aimed at making quick money by the founders, not to offer a product that will last and be useful.
Therefore, the sector is slowly losing the momentum and Edu-tech companies have started laying off the employees. Leading the layoff campaign is Edu-Tech giant Unacademy. In a cost-cutting drive, Unacademy, India’s second-largest Edu-tech firm after BYJU’s, has reportedly laid off 1,000 employees over the past few weeks. Interestingly though, 2021 proved to be a robust growth year for such educational startups in India, as they collectively raised close to $4.7 billion.
It is high time that the Modi government starts a dynamic government Edu-tech platform, instead of allowing these companies a free run, which fool the poor parents. Availability of 24*7 courses should not mean that government sheds its responsibility of providing the nutritional requirements for these kids, and special arrangements should be made to continue schemes like mid-day meals.
The Indian government needs to start a massive open online course (MOOC) targeted especially towards students residing in villages. These courses need to be specially designed keeping in mind the intelligence level of a first-generation school-going student.
Once an audio-and-video format lecture is made available to these kids, the next step should be to ensure their accessibility. Since the majority of the government school kids do not have proper electronic devices, the government needs to provide them with devices to access these videos. Besides that, the government will need to launch a training program in which these kids will be provided tutorials to run the tablets. Already enrolled government teachers can be used for this purpose.
It’s not that the government doesn’t have the experience to run MOOCs. IITs and IISC already offer online courses through NPTEL. Wiz IQ is another course offered by IIT Delhi. Indian government itself runs various courses through the SWAYAM portal.