Fearing that schools and colleges would become the breeding grounds of the novel coronavirus, the Indian government took a conscious decision to shut the educational institutions in March.
Following that order, students, parents, teachers, and other stakeholders in the education sector, took the online route to keep the process of learning ongoing without any hindrance.
Taking advantage of the situation, the edtech startups of the Indian startup ecosystem jumped in to help the 250 million school-going students in India with two major issues — first, to help students with their studies, and second, to keep them protected from the deadly COVID-19.
As per a report by BARC India and Nielsen, there has been a 30 percent increase in the time spent on education apps on smartphones since the lockdown.
For instance, the time spent on BYJU’s app has increased from 70 minutes (pre-lockdown) to 91 minutes during the lockdown. Further, these edtech startups started free live classes for students.
Here are a few edtech startups that are helping students not compromise on their lessons.
Bengaluru-based edtech startup Vedantu provides live online classes to students between Classes 6 and 12. It also has courses for students preparing for JEE and NEET.
The startup is offering support to students, parents, and schools across the country to provide live and personalised online classes during the lockdown. Students across grades 1-12 can get free access to Vedantu’s LIVE Classes, tests, doubt solving, ample study material, class recordings, notes, and more.
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Vedantu’s platform is helping students cover subjects like Math, Science, Social Studies, Physics, Chemistry, etc. Apart from this, co-curricular courses for all grades such as turbo maths, rocket pro, photography, coding, are also available for free. All the sessions are given in the live format in a one to many model where one teacher can cater to almost 500+ students at one time.
Vedantu has also launched early learner classes — ‘Vedantu Superkids’ — for students belonging to Kindergarten right till Grade 5. The programme not only focusses on the learning outcomes but also on the cognitive, sensory, and linguistic developmental outcomes.
Founded by Gaurav Munjal, Roman Saini, and Hemesh Singh in 2015, Unacademy, on March 12 announced that it will conduct close to 20,000 free live classes on its platform to ensure learners’ education is not obstructed amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Unacademy educators from across the nation will provide their time to this initiative, ensure the courses for various exams are on track, and over 700 live classes per day will be conducted. These classes are not limited to those who already have a subscription with Unacademy, but are open to all.
On March 18, the Bengaluru headquartered platform started inviting educational institutions across the country to conduct their classes online through its platform to ensure seamless learning for students.
In April 2020, the edtech platform recorded massive growth — breaking all its previous records — in terms of revenue, video views, watch time, etc.
A Twitter post by Gaurav claimed that Unacademy’s revenue for April 2020, is higher than 2017, 2018, and the first half of 2019, combined. “This has been a phenomenal month for us,” the tweet said.
Mumbai-based edtech startup Toppr also announced free access to live classes and video classes.
Zishaan Hayath, CEO and Co-founder, Toppr said, "In view of the evolving situation around COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, and given that some schools are shut and studies interrupted, we are making Toppr’s live classes completely free for all students in Classes 5-12. Besides this, our video classes have always been available as a free learning resource.”
Founded in 2013, the startup offers questions, solutions, concepts, practice tests, and videos to students. It also prepares them for competitive entrance exams such as IIT-JEE mains, BITSAT, and NEET.
The platform has seen a 100 percent growth in paid users’ on a monthly basis, and free user engagement witnessed a 100 percent spike.
Exam preparation platform Gradeup helps more than 20 million exam aspirants prepare effectively for competitive examinations like GATE, IBPS, SSC, TET, UPSC, among others. During the lockdown, the startup announced the launch of its campaign #PadhaiNahiRukegi, which will specifically cater to the education needs of students from Classes 8 to 12, especially those preparing for JEE and NEET exams.
In the exam preparation category, Gradeup is betting on its mobile-first approach for success
With over 3.5 million monthly active users, and more than 15 million app downloads, Gradeup is India’s only edtech platform which has built engaging exam-specific communities of students, preparing for competitive exams, enabling students to interact with fellow peers and mentors, ask questions, share updates, and much more.
BYJU’s has made the content on its app completely free to school students from Classes 1 to 12 since the lockdown. It has introduced live classes in April to bring scheduled engagement to students' everyday learning routines in these times.
As a result of the lockdown, the startup received an overwhelming response with almost a 3X increase in the number of students accessing the app. In March, it witnessed six million new users on its platform, while April saw 7.5 million new users.
Mumbai-based edtech startup upGrad is also providing free online programmes across the areas of Tech, Management, and Data, thereby motivating professionals to work towards their career growth. So far, the startup claims to receive 50,000 enrollments for the same.
The startup has also introduced a 10K programme initiative, which allows learners to start a university-certified MBA, Master's, or Diploma programme at an initial cost of Rs 10,000.
Arjun Mohan, CEO of upGrad said, “The 10K program initiative, which allows learners to start a university-certified MBA, Master's, or Diploma program at an initial cost of Rs 10,000 only, and experience the world-class learning platform for about six weeks before they could actually decide if they want to pay the remaining fees and continue, or quit. The initiative has received 1,00,000+ interests and over 1,000 enrollments, so far."
Co-founded by Ronnie Screwvala, Mayank Kumar, and Phalgun Kompalli in early 2015, the startup opened live learning platform to all schools, colleges, educational institutions, NGO's, and government bodies in mid-March, thereby proving the robustness of the online model as compared to the traditional ones, which has been shut for an infinite period. Currently, 50+ institutions are conducting their classes seamlessly through the upGrad Live platform with over 45,000 students registered.
Gurugram-based PlanetSpark started offering free live online tutoring classes to children of the medical staff and police force, who are working tirelessly to help India fight the coronavirus pandemic.
The startup offers academic programmes in subjects such as Math, English, and Science. Further, it provides new-age skills such as communications, reading, coding, robotics, and hobby classes, including drawing, sketching, and music, in a live, interactive manner.
To take advantage of its new scheme, frontline workers can choose any one free subject, and avail a 50 percent discount on every additional subject.
“We decided we would let our Corona Warriors know that while they are risking their lives to serve India, we will look after their children and ensure they do not fall behind,” said Kunal Malik, Co-founder of PlanetSpark.
(Edited by Suman Singh)
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