Education Day: Meet the 7 edtech startups that are changing the learning game in India
Quality education is a weapon that can be used to wield change - not just at an individual level, but for greater and global issues, including prejudice when it comes to group, caste, race, religion, and region. The importance of education is well known. In a fast-evolving and competitive world, it is extremely important to be aware of not just the past but also stay up-to-date with what's happening globally.
India observes National Education Day on November 11 every year to celebrate this power and potential. The day is celebrated to commemorate the birth anniversary of Independent India's first Education Minister, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.
An influential independence activist during India's freedom struggle, Abul Kalam Azad was also a renowned writer, poet, and journalist. A firm believer in the co-existence of religions, his dream was a unified India with Muslims and Hindus coexisting peacefully. He passed away in 1958 and was awarded India's highest civilian honour - the Bharat Ratna - in 1992.
On the occasion of his birth and National Education Day, YourStory lists startups that are working towards making young India literate, educated, and smart.
Tare Zameen Par
Bengaluru-based Tare Zameen Par (TZP) brings the stars closer to children residing in Karnataka's rural areas. Founded by Dinesh Badagandi, the startup has built a mobile planetarium. These are customised inflatable domes, inside which students settle down to watch the cosmos wonder - just like in regular planetariums. In fact, the mobile or portable planetariums come with a genset, two domes, a GPS, a solar-powered UPS, special projectors, air conditioners, and software managed by trained personnel.
TZP offers a one-day lab-on-wheels (planetarium on wheels) programme where students get to watch short films on the basics of astronomy, demonstrations of experiments to understand the concepts of refraction and reflection, and learn about solar energy and its applications.
TZP offers 60 shows; many of these are approved by the Department of State Education Research and Training. TZP sources its content from Evans and Sutherland, a world leader in digital planetariums, and dubs it into Kannada to help children in rural areas understand.
The startup keeps adding to the list, and the cost of the programme is around Rs 100 per student. So far, TZP's six portable planetariums have conducted thousands of shows for more than three lakh students.
Focused on empowering teachers, Bengaluru-based Guru-G Learning was founded in 2013. With its Android application that works without the internet, Guru-G that helps teachers discover curriculum-aligned teaching ideas, generate lesson plans, and get analysis on student learning. It was founded by Amruth BR, Anand Joshi, and Shivananda Salgame.
Through their corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative, Guru-G Learning worked with NGOs to enable teachers of schools located in forest areas, to use the platform. The startup has previously worked with government schools in Bandipur, Mudumalai, and Kanha.
Guru-G focuses on the process and methodology of teaching, while conforming to existing principles and factors. It initially rolled out content in five languages: Kannada, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, and English; today, all Indian languages can be accommodated in the application.
GuruG is also integrated with Diksha, the National Teacher Platform, which makes the app available to millions of teachers. According to the founders, over 75,000 teachers use the application. It also works with publishers, including Pearson, on a project-to-project basis.
Launched in 2018 by serial entrepreneur Mohit Bansal, iChamp is a digital platform that uses intuitive quiz-based learning to enhance math and English skills among children in the 5-13 years age group. The platform combines parameters likes gamification, competition, rewards/recognition, and fun.
The core of iChamp practice engine is a series of short duration quizzes/challenges that a child can take – either individually or against a group of students across the country. These are specifically designed to keep the child engaged and increase the time spent practising various topics.The app is free to use and caters to both CBSE and ICSE curriculums.
In March this year, the startup received an undisclosed amount of funding in a round led by Singapore-based Ariana Investment Management’s CEO Raju Shukla. Investors like Anuj Gupta and Mohit Agarwal, co-founders of poker gaming website adda52.com, also participated in the round.
Founded in 2016, by three former colleagues, G (aka Moorthy), Gowri Mahesh, and Saras Ramamoorthy, Learning Matters focuses on the need for school education to be more engaging, especially in rural and semi-urban schools.
The Bengaluru-based startup uses Alexa and videos to teach, making learning more engaging and helping teachers in upgrading their skills.
Learning Matters offers four products - the Star Teacher programme, the Star Teacher Tool Box, Tara (the cloud-based, NLP-powered virtual voice teacher), and Kengine, a curated library of learning videos from across the world, translated into Indian languages.
Essentially bootstrapped, the founders set up the company with funding from friends and family. According to them, the startup makes a profit on every sale.
Education should be measured by the efforts and not the outcome - that's the concept behind ExtraClass. Founded by Persainjit Singh, Prakash Gupta, and Swati Gupta, the Gurugram-based startup motivates students with rewards for the efforts they put into learning.
ExtraClass is currently available as an Android app. Founded in 2017, the startup helps students prepare for school, college, and competitive entrance exams, including engineering, medical, foreign university admission, management entrances, and government jobs.
It provides free learning content to anyone between the ages of five and 25 years. ExtraClass aims to make learning more thought-provoking, accessible, and enjoyable. The edtech startup claims to have generated more than Rs 75 lakh in revenues in FY19, with over 1.5 lakh subscribers.
Founded in January 2014, Testbook helps students from Tier II, III, and IV cities to crack government job exams. The Mumbai-based startup was founded by IIT graduates Ashutosh Kumar, Narendra Agarwal, Abhishek Sagar, Manoj Munna, Praveen Agrawal, and Yadvendar Champawat.
Initially starting operations in Patna and Bhagalpur, Testbook now has 11 centres across Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, and Rajasthan. It offers online tests and mock exams for banking, insurance, SSC, railway, engineering, teaching, defence, and police.
The team has partnered with 200 coaching institutes to integrate Testbook online tests with their curriculum. It has also partnered with 220 cyber cafes across cities, and created Testbook-branded computer labs to provide students with practice papers in a real exam environment. The startup has more than six million registered users; the Android application has over eight million installations.
STEM education is increasingly gaining popularity and couple Amalore Jude and Susan Jude founded Modo Edulabs in 2015, to target this market. The Bengaluru-based startup teaches robotics and coding to K-12 kids through an online platform.
Its five-level course has 25 40-minute lessons. In total, the platform has content spanning 1,000 minutes, all uploaded online. A student just needs to log into the website, take the course, assemble the kits, do the programming, and complete the course.
Besides that, Modo Edulabs also offers robotic kit sensors, tools and microprocessors for children to learn and programme.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)