The Indian education system has long been a subject of scrutiny over rote learning, outdated curriculum, and lack of proper infrastructure. While one of the most vexing issues remains the inadequate teacher-student ratio, the fact that the average Indian classroom does not meet the individual learning needs of students is another harsh reality.
That said, online education does offer with all its advantages has brought a whole new outlook to the education system. An exciting concept when compared to the traditional ‘brick and mortar’ arrangement of traditional education, online education is bringing quite a lot of services and flexibility in India.
However, India’s embracement of ‘getting education smarter’ is not limited to just a few start-ups. Other leading education players like NIIT, Cuemath, Educomp, Toppr and BYJU’s, too, have been investing in the Indian education market for the last few years. This change, however, has been wrought over several years.
Starting from the changes brought to schools by Shantanu Prakash of Educomp Solutions in the 1990s, education-oriented initiatives by organizations and the government in the 2000s, incorporation of technology amid the mobile revolution to the current Digital India initiative – education has seen a far radical change in its progression.
Apart from the widespread recognition received through campaigns like ‘Digital India’, online education and ed-tech have presented several incentives as well as sustainable traction from the market. This includes support from the government, and efforts on part of a few visionaries and change-makers. Other than that, there is the sheer need to update the methodologies in teaching and learning scales.
"While most teachers are used to a traditional form of teaching, the mindset is changing today. Many of our teachers realize students need better guidance to understand concepts, and they are not well-equipped to handle these challenges," explains Manan Khurma, founder and CEO of Cuemath.
Insights from the market and the additional cost incentive involved in imparting online education further gives an impetus to bolster ed-tech developments. Without having to set up physical infrastructure or incur administrative costs, such as staff salaries, stationery and books, online education providers can reach out to the masses easily and effectively.
Another aspect to the promising growth of online education and ed-tech sector in India is the demand among working professionals and job-seekers. Due to automation and slowdown in the global economy, the Indian job scenario is reeling under the double pressure of layoffs and job paucity. In such troubled times, job seekers and working professionals feel a need to gain, refresh or enhance their skills through career advancement courses.
They are right in their approach since such courses can increase their chances of landing better jobs, switch jobs, get promotions, negotiate better pay packages and stay industry-relevant. Online career courses are affordable and give hands-on knowledge. Online courses can be completed at much lesser time than that of an offline course, thus increasing their desirability.
E-learning is gaining popularity not only among consumers, but also among the investors. The vast scope of consumers in the form of students as well as potential employees investing in ed-tech is a win-win situation for big shot investors. An investment of $50 million in Byju’s by the Chang Zuckerberg Initiative, $8.2 million funding in Eruditus by Bertelsmann India, and an investment of $10 million in EduPristine by Kaizen Management Advisors and DeVry Inc vouch for the promising future the industry holds, especially in India.
Whether ed-tech could replace the traditional teaching methods is still a debatable topic. However, the concept of flexible, virtual classes through all levels of education surely holds the potential to emerge as an emerging industry in the years to come.