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STARTUP 12: Remote learning brought edtech startups to the fore

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By Rachel V. Thomas

New Delhi, Dec 12 (IANS) The pandemic-induced lockdowns and fear of Covid-19 spread pushed schools, colleges and educational institutes towards the remote form of online learning last year, and the edtech startups jumped on to the bandwagon.

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As the pandemic disrupted the traditional brick-and-mortar education, the edtech startups rushed to help schools transition from offline to online.

According to KPMG, there are more than 3,500 edtech startups in India today.

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India’s edtech sector is poised to become a $30 billion industry in the next 10 years, according to RBSA Advisor, a transaction advisory firm. According to the report, vigorous growth will drive the growth in the K-12 edtech opportunity in the user base.

“Amid the pandemic, students were online which led to an increased adoption of online learning tools to ensure continuity in learning. This rise has disrupted the education industry, paving the way forward for edtech startups and companies towards the future of learning,” Manan Khurma, Founder and Chairman at online maths and coding platform Cuemath, told IANS.

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Reports have also shown that since the lockdown, Byju’s added over 33 million users to its platform to touch the 75 million-mark, while Unacademy’s user base tripled to 40 million users by January 2021.

In the first nine months of FY 2020-2021, UpGrad, a platform providing online courses for upskilling, grew 100 per cent in terms of number of users.

The highly competitive edtech space has seen the players develop innovative approaches towards the hybrid structure of learning that combines classroom engagement with digital learning tools to give students a more personalised approach to learning, while also promoting classroom engagement.

“We as an industry worked together to address the long-standing issue of quality education being affordable and accessible to the mobile-first generation. Not only is the industry supporting the school curriculum and assisting candidates with exam preparation, but it is also underlining the value of extracurricular activities,” said Vamsi Krishna, CEO and Co-founder, Vedantu.

The use of advanced technologies such as AI/ML, AR/VR along with content analytics is the future of edtech, resulting in improved learning outcomes.

“New concepts such as gamification, machine learning enhanced by data analytics will intensify as primary technological drivers of the EdTech revolution and the wider trend of personalisation,” Khurma added.

The National Education Policy (NEP), introduced by the HRD Ministry in the FY 2020-2021, integrates with edtech that can lead towards inclusive, cohesive, and productive education in the country. The NEP recognises the role of technology in making education more effective, and also for imparting training to teachers for creation of high-quality online content.

However, the tier 2 and 3 markets and rural India with patchy internet connectivity are going to be extremely crucial for the future penetration of education.

Further, the lack of uniform government policies, financial incentives for research and innovation in the edtech space are some of the impediments to the growth trajectory of this sector. Another major concern is the absence of a regulatory body for the sector.

“EdTech is a new segment that is emerging very rapidly. Within online higher education – while there are no regulatory bodies in edtech yet – higher education is governed by regulations laid down by the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the Ministry of Education (MoE). These regulations also apply to higher EdTech companies who need to abide by these rules to uphold the standards of higher education,” Mayank Kumar, Co-founder and MD, upGrad, told IANS.

A comprehensive ed-tech policy that provides access to learning, especially to disadvantaged groups; facilitates teacher training and continuous professional development; along with improvement in governance systems including planning, management, and monitoring processes will be key for the sector to grow.

(Rachel V. Thomas can be contacted at rachel.t@ians.in)



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