The education landscape has changed and evolved in recent years.
Previously, when we talked about education, it was limited to the boundaries of a particular area in a particular city. Because of this, there weren’t many options for getting an education beyond schools and localized coaching centers. However, after the proliferation of the internet and smartphones, there is a growing number of edtech companies (9,043, according to Tracxn) in India, offering a range of products and services aimed at the entire value chain. education. This is also due to the growing acceptance and adoption of digital tools and content by relevant stakeholders (i.e. teachers, parents and students) post COVID-19.
According to the BARC India and Neilson report, time spent on educational apps has increased by 30%. Furthermore, the sector received a boost when the government announced the National Education Policy (NEP 2020) which gave due importance to the role of technology in education.
The increase in the number of edtech companies itself suggests the huge opportunity. According to Statista estimates, the Indian market size of the Edtech industry is expected to reach USD 10.4 billion by 2025.
The Indian educational opportunity is growing and ever-changing due to the changing needs of students and growing aspiration of parents. To put it the other way, imagine if there was only one edtech company that offers everything seamlessly across the value chain, it would have to solve mainly three challenges:
A very big distributed problem
The young population (i.e. those under the age of 24) was 50.1% in 2011 and is expected to fall to 34.7% in 2036 (according to the population projections report). This indicates “a limited time to improve the quality of education and skills and also to move from school to workspace,” says Anoop Satpathy, labor economist and professor at the National Labor Institute VV Giri.
He classified young Indians into three categories: those pursuing education, those employed and unemployed, and thirdly, those not pursuing education and not seeking employment.
Although the overall GER (gross enrollment ratio) increased (at upper primary level, elementary level, secondary level and upper secondary level) in 2019-20 compared to 2018-19, there is still a long way to go. travel to include the remaining population in the education system. Improving the GER (100% in schools and 50% in higher education) is one of the main axes of the NEP 2020.
One of the challenges is to integrate all the children who are missing from the system, and the other challenge is to retain them. We can learn from an interesting step the UK government has taken to create a home schooling register so that missing pupils can be added and tracked in the system.
The dropout rate at the secondary level is 16.07%. But even to maintain the same dropout rate, other infrastructure issues will need to be addressed. A sufficient number of teachers will be needed to fill this gap and existing teachers will also need to receive adequate training.
Full standardization is extremely difficult
India is a very diverse country, not only in terms of culture and languages, but also in the design of the education system. Different levels are governed by different boards (CBSE, ICSE, etc.) and regulatory bodies (MCI, etc.). It is also different depending on the region (people living in urban and rural areas) with different purchasing power. It is extremely difficult to come up with standardization because of this varied mix.
Moreover, so far in edtech, whatever developments have taken place have been at a foundational level, namely the digitization of student touchpoints (i.e. schools, colleges and coaching institutes) and content and dissemination. However, due to the rapid evolution of the market and the increase in technological innovations (use of AI/ML, robotics), greater (tailor-made) customization will be required to meet the individual learning needs of students at different stages, their language preferences and according to their ability to pay (implementation of flexible pricing).
Changing the mindset of parents
For ages, Indian parents have focused on the traditional school model. For them, adapting to edtech was extremely difficult due to the lack of devices, electricity or internet. This has created a digital divide between urban and rural children.
COVID-19 has provided the much-needed push for edtech adoption. Also, Indian parents have high aspirations for their child’s particularly strong affinity with the professions i.e. doctor, engineer, CA or lawyer. However, very slowly, the mindset of parents is shifting from grades and grades to outcome-based learning, but there is still a long way to go. More and more students now understand the importance of different skills courses to stay relevant in the job market.
The Indian market is very diverse with different needs so one single edtech cannot solve the problem of education in India. In fact, many edtech companies, either standalone or in partnership with government, will need to make sure they reach the masses. They must carefully design and implement solutions with the NEP 2020 pillars (affordability, access, equity, quality and accountability) in mind. In addition, the needs of individual stakeholders (parents, teachers, students and educational institutions, government/regulatory bodies) will need to be clearly understood. The journey is long, but effectively incorporating technological innovations with elements of gamification throughout how edtech companies can truly solve the problem of Indian education.
(The author is the founder and CEO of the edtech company Pariksha-vernacular)
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Published on: Saturday, February 26, 2022, 2:00 PM IST