The golden age of teachers is coming back, says Byju Raveendran at TechSparks 2021
It is no secret that— the Bengaluru-headquartered Indian education technology or edtech decacorn (startups valued over $10 billion) — has played the role of a catalyst in tapping the potential of India’s youth enabling them to access a classroom from anywhere and everywhere.
This is significant considering that India is a youth-powered nation. But for long, a vast majority of India’s youth remained outside the cycle of self-agency and self-acceleration. However, the greater impact lies in the fact that there are over 12,000 women teachers in the BYJU’S family, women who otherwise couldn’t have bridged personal and professional barriers to become teachers.
In having unlocked the untapped potential of teachers from across India, having accelerated their earning potential, and reversing the phenomenon of the low-income and undervalued teacher, BYJU’S it seems, has ushered in the “golden age” of teachers.
On the opening day of TechSparks 2021, YourStory’s flagship event and India’s biggest startup-tech conference, Byju Raveendran, Founder and CEO, BYJU’S, a leader in the Indian edtech space, heralded the golden age of teachers.
“I always say that the golden age of teachers is coming back,” he said, himself a former math teacher, who once coached his friends for the CAT examination.
“Teachers have always played an integral part in shaping our future and in shaping a country’s future. Yet for most part, it has remained underappreciated. Teachers themselves underestimate the impact which they create on their students. That's something which money can buy now — with technology playing an important role in boosting the earning potential of teachers. The world has become a classroom today."
"Anyone can become a teacher, you can teach anything you want to, whether it's math, science, or even something which you are very passionate about. You can just go online and start teaching and you can always find your (student),” Byju explained while speaking with Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO, YourStory.
In India, although teachers have always commanded cultural capital, the same has not necessarily translated into a financial take-off of their careers, leaving most out of the larger economic dividends resulting from a digital transformation that India has witnessed. Not exactly associated with material rewards and financial growth no matter how much they deserve it, the image of the quintessential teacher has been upheld in India as a saintly figure.
And that’s precisely why YourStory’s Shradha Sharma straight away dug up the all-encompassing teacher characters from the pages of mythology — sage Vashistha and guru Dronacharya in the epics Ramayana and the Mahabharata respectively — as examples of the sacrificial teacher-figure, far away from reaping material rewards. “But when it comes to money, when it comes to material wealth, you know, it was looked down upon…. and that’s what has changed today. And I want to bring this into the conversation because I think you have played a phenomenal role in shaping that change, where teachers today are making money,” Shradha pointed out.
Indeed, not seen as ambitious enough, women in the profession have traditionally suffered from gender bias giving credence to their so-called “feminine” qualities of nurturing and sacrificing. Worse, women in the teaching profession have often been reminded that teaching is a low-paying, non-glamorous, and stopgap job until marriage, and that it didn’t anyway promise growth.
But not anymore. Now a BYJU’S teacher is only a touch away from her classroom and a click away from accelerating her own career. This democratisation of the teaching profession across genders and demographics by the edtech giant that has made a celebrity out of every teacher, an influencer in their respective domains has to be understood in the context of building a robust foundation for the future generations.
Indeed, Byju elaborated that the company has not only empowered the teaching community but created a culture of celebrity teachers with their own clout and following. On one side, while there are 150 million women missing in the birth book, on the other side, an edtech empire has employed and enabled 12,000 women teachers, Shradha pointed out unearthing the contextual impact of the BYJU’S story.
The democratisation doesn’t come at the cost of quality, Byju is quick to remind that. The corpus of the 12,000-strong community of women teachers constitutes mostly high-quality graduates, those who were otherwise underemployed and in some cases unemployed.
What has worked for them are factors such as flexibility, convenience, and being able to contribute to the workforce, which suffers from a skewed gender ratio, especially with lower participation of women in the workforce. “And that’s an untapped opportunity,” said Byju, adding that it’s not only about cost arbitrage but more importantly, quality arbitrage, which the edtech empire brought in with their “engineers for the world”.
“There is a real chance for us to play that role in teaching the world. And I'm very happy to say that what we have been able to start hopefully becomes a revolution,” Byju stated.
The edtech enterprise holds the distinction of being the most-valued startup in India at $16.5 billion having surpassed Vijay Shekhar Sharma-led fintech decacorn’s $16 billion valuation. However, the story of the dramatic rise of the decacorn also tells a social impact story going beyond its valuation figures.
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