Ed-Tech Start-ups Bringing Change In The Way India Learns
The Indian Education System
India boasts of over 1.6 million schools all across the country with thousands of colleges and hundreds of universities as per MHRD data. However, a titanic number of educational institutions does not imply that the quality of the education system of the country is on par with the rest of the world. Over the years, India has achieved remarkable progress in the socio-economic sector and a multitude of changes have been brought about in the education sector. These changes are, however, simply just not sufficient to eradicate all underlying problems. It is not just one single issue that has been hindering the education system from progressing with time.
Some of these rigid problems need to be pulled out right from the roots but so far, it has not been achieved yet. A few of the problems include inadequate funds, poor teacher-to-student ratio, non-affordablity, the indifference of the rural population towards education and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Inadequate funds make it impossible to develop proper infrastructure or acquire more books and learning materials. Funds, even if available, are not being used in the best way possible. The Indian education system has a unbalanced teacher-to-student ratio. There is a need for more qualified individuals who will tend to the needs of each student better than just one teacher catering to about 50 students at once. Moreover, with the population of India standing at a staggering count of 1.33 crores and still increasing, illiteracy and poverty are inevitable. A large section of the Indian population cannot afford schooling, people from rural areas just refuse to be bothered by schools or education, in general, while geographical locations and terrains prove to be a problem in accessibility for some.
Emerging ed-tech start-ups
We live in a digital age, an age where everything is immensely dependent on technology from basic needs such as turning off lights automatically to high power-demanding actions such as cybersecurity et cetera. Everything is going online. It shouldn’t, therefore, come off as a surprise that so is education. Today, in the country, there are about a couple of thousands of ed-tech start-ups that have come up over the years, ed-tech being a portmanteau of the words Education and Technology. While the number of start-ups is still outnumbered by the number of schools in the country signifying that the traditional ‘brick and mortar’ method is still very prevalent, some of these start-ups have been garnering quite the deserved hype and attention.
Online education or e-learning has massive potential in eliminating a big chunk of the problems faced by the education system. Deviating from the standard method of education in buildings, inside classrooms, online education facilitates learning at one’s own pace which can motivate students and let them not give up studies entirely. It can bypass the challenges of geographical problems and accessibility and bring quality education to all parts of the country, even the most remote ones at low costs.
Contrary to rote learning which seems to have been the norm for quite a long time in a lot of our schools, education start-ups have been stressing more on skill, talent and personal development and not just mugging up information blindly for test preparation. Through the widespread recognition of the Digital India campaign, a lot has changed for the education sector as well. Some of the schools in metropolitan cities of the country have incorporated technology and smart education in their curriculum. Another example is including gamification, AR, VR elements in the curriculum. These can definitely help students learn and retain information better.
The Ed-Tech Start-up boom
Currently, there are over 3500 start-ups in the educational sector and the number is growing. India has seen a boom of ed-tech start-ups over the past few years. The ed-tech sector is a multi-million industry, receiving over 500 millions of dollars in funding. In 2017, about $375 million was received in funding and 2018 saw a rise in the statistics by about 85%, reaching $700 million in funding. According to a Google-KPMG report, India’s online education market is set to grow to $1.96 Bn and have around 9.6 Mn users by 2021. Some of the reputed start-ups that took off really well are BYJU’s, Toppr, Unacademy, Meritnation, Educomp, HashLearn and others. BYJU’s have amassed funding of $3.6 billion and is now the fifth most valuable start-up of the country.
So, what exactly is the driving force behind the huge growth of this industry?
Huge user base of mobile devices
With the advent of the internet, there has been an explosion in the number of people using smartphones and accessibility to the Internet is nothing short of a few taps with your fingers. An approximate number of 850 million people use mobile devices in India and this section largely comprises of youngsters. Hence, it is no surprise that mobile devices are the classrooms of tomorrow. Companies and institutions have realised the potential of mobile devices to offer various services that could bring in more revenue. With such a huge number of people having access to the Internet, it also becomes possible for everyone to access quality education.
Each student learns at a different pace and has a different aptitude for each subject. In traditional classrooms, it is not possible for the instructor to wait for each student to catch up and cater to everyone’s needs individually. So, the student is expected to adjust to the pace or rate at which the teacher progresses with the course. The situation is different when we talk about e-learning. There are certified tutors who can tend to a student’s doubts and questions individually and help them out. One can also access video lectures and course material whenever one wants to, at their own pace without having to worry about falling behind the rest of the class.
Lower tuition cost
The obvious difference in the average tuition fee for online courses and offline courses make online courses seem like the more sensible option to many. Online skill development courses are much cheaper than the same offered online. This is because courses online have a larger student base and lower-tier infrastructure which helps to bring down the costs a lot more, making it a viable option. Someone who could not afford proper offline schooling could turn to these courses instead.
Breaking geographical barriers
Bringing quality education to every part of the country is where e-learning has really been successful. Not having to worry about geographical barriers and still being able to access course material is highly beneficial for a lot of people.
Digital India campaign
Above all, the one thing that we can owe the huge success of the ed-tech industry to, is the widespread recognition of the Digital India campaign. Launched with an aim to digitally empower the country, this campaign has brought about revolutionary changes in various sectors, including the educational sector of the country. E-learning has been boosted highly and every day, schools and universities are incorporating technological elements in their teaching and evaluation methods. This has proved to be a huge help to the growth of the ed-tech sector.
While ed-tech start-ups are still a long way from replacing traditional classrooms entirely, it is not impossible that e-learning may dominate traditional schooling in a few years from now. There are skills that can only be learnt in a classroom and some things might not be learnt as efficiently online. However, with the development of the technological and educational industry, ed-tech start-ups are definitely changing the way India learns and this country will be ahead in the game in the future.