COVID-19 has changed the way in which teaching takes place. Within the first few months of the pandemic restrictions, all the educational institutions including the students were closed and gradually, the offline classes before the pandemic shifted to online classes when it was predicted that the pandemic will last for quite some time. The online shift proved to be quite profitable for the edtech industry which saw funding of INR 30,0000 crore in the sector in less than a year. Big brand names like Byju and Unacademy that not only prepare the students for school exams but also Government Jobs saw huge popularity amongst the students.
Digital Transformation Of Education Ecosystem
Currently, the Indian education system is seeing a digital transformation that has been accelerated not only due to technology but also the pandemic. It is believed that the digital transformation of the education ecosystem is much needed for the learners to solve their problems and further increase the accessibility, which will not only improve the skills of the young children but will also help the economy of the country.
Unicorn Status of Edtech Startups
2021 has proved to be a fruitful year for the Indian startups where many of the startups earned the status of a unicorn. Three edtech startups have also managed to earn unicorn status by getting a valuation of one billion dollars. The three startups which have now become unicorns are Unacademy, UpGrad and Eruditus. Byju, which has previously become a unicorn, became big pretty quickly. During its last valuation, the company was valued at 1.2 lakh crore and currently, this year, the company is expecting a turnover of 10,000 crores and surprisingly, the company is no older than ten years. Byju is not only expanding itself but is also trying to create a monopoly by sharp acquisitions of its rivals like Toppr and Aakash, which is a big brand in the coaching business.
How Good Are These Startups?
Even though the edtech startups are looking pretty rosy with the names of toppers in the list of Sarkari Result, the actuality might not match what is presented. For instance, discussions on social media platforms and online media have pointed out that most of these startups are engaging themselves in unethical practices like duping innocent parents. In addition to that, they are further practising a toxic marketing culture which has resulted in such aggressive growth. Seeing the growth, many startups are entering this sector only to crash and burn as told by experts. The success of the edtech startup in India is highly dependent on how the growth areas are capitalised.
The highly positive growth numbers and valuations indicate the possibilities that exist in the Indian market and further, the rise of aspirations in the small towns of the country. The growth of Indian edtech companies is not limited to the borders of the nation but has expanded abroad too. For instance, Epic, the American digital reading platform was recently acquired by Byju’s for 500 million dollars. On the other hand, iD Tech, a Silicon Valley startup was acquired by Eruditus for 200 million dollars.
What Are These EdTech Startups Focusing On?
The EdTech startups are focusing on multiple areas within the education system. For instance, it not only focuses on the school curriculum but also on entrance exams of higher education and government jobs. Online learning is seeing growth also because of the National Education Policy of the government which promotes online education. The digital education sector has become so lucrative that even school managements which are considered conventional players have also entered the game. Even though everything is done in the name of providing better learning opportunities and accessibility for the student, is it really the case? Undoubtedly, technology can optimize the learning of the students but it needs to be used properly. One needs to avoid false promises to both students and the parents to stop disappointing them. Proper data should be provided that indicates how many students were enrolled in a particular online course and how many of them actually managed to qualify for the exam to present the customers with a clear picture to indicate what they can expect from these startups.
Docente - Investigadora Educativa.
Doctora en Cs. de la Educación, Magíster en Desarrollo Curricular y Licenciada en Relaciones Industriales.