By Bharath Kumar J
The education sector has undergone rapid transformation in recent years. Leveraging technology; access, reach, and diversity of the education sector has amplified. Edtechs has emerged as one of the critical cogs of the sector as quality education takes prominence. Rising penetration of the internet, cheap data, and sound speed have supplemented this uptrend. The Internet of India report showed that the country had 759 million active internet users by the end of 2022, which is likely to reach 900 million by 2025. Being the second largest online market in the world, the growth potential of edtech is immense. Glimpses of such potential were reflected during the COVID pandemic period. When physical classes were impossible to operate owing to contagion risks, the education sector globally including India had shifted to an online mode of learning. The growth of the edtech sector touched a record high cashing in from such a shift. No wonder, the edtech segment in India has grown exponentially despite the recent headwinds. India is the second largest market for e-learning after the US with a market size of $6 billion, and is expected to grow to $10 billion by 2025.
Trends responsible for growth of edtechs:
The surge in adoption of edtech is driven by multiple factors. In a country of 1.4 billion people, India has been striving to provide quality education to its citizens. Advancement of technology requires upskilling at a massive scale. These factors coupled with a multitude of others are supporting the uptrend in the edtech space.
Massive upskilling requirement:
India is considered the hub for technology talent with most global technology and IT services companies having their centres in the country. According to industry body Nasscom, the technology industry collectively employs around 4.5 million people in India. Such a scale of talent makes it an attractive destination for all global companies to drive innovation and build products and services for the world from Indian centres. However, technology is an ever-evolving space. Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, data analytics, cloud computing, blockchain, and many others have been changing the technology landscape with each passing day. The advent of generative AI tools like ChatGPT has taken it to a different dimension altogether. In this context, the workforce has to be trained on a frequent basis to get them industry-ready. Without such upskilling, mass redundancy can’t be ruled out. Ironically, India is facing a serious skill gap in many emerging technology areas. A recent study by NASSCOM forecasts that the demand-supply gap will increase 3.5 times by 2026. India will need 30 million digitally skilled professionals by 2026, and 50 per cent of the current workforce will need to re-skill themselves in emerging technologies, according to a report released by staffing firm, TeamLease. Against this backdrop, edtech platforms have emerged as the most preferred platforms for technology professionals to learn new digital skill sets. Given the online mode of learning, flexibility, superior quality, and affordability, courses provided by edtech firms have been receiving wide acceptance among learners in recent years. As the need for upskilling grows, the growth prospects of edtech firms seem bright.
Quality education with easy access & low cost:
India after 75 years of its independence is still striving to provide quality education to all its citizens. The scope for improvement in this regard is huge. According to the education ministry, 6,549 positions across 45 central universities remain vacant. Similarly, primary & secondary education in the country has been plagued by problems such as shortage of teachers, the lack of proper infrastructure facilities coupled with hard-to-access places. These shortfalls can be overcome through online mode of learning. During the COVID pandemic, the online mode of learning has shown its efficacy in reaching out to far-flung areas. Moreover, the issue of the availability of quality teachers in remote regions leads to below-par education in the hinterland. Through online learning platforms like edtechs, good teachers sitting in metros can impart education to students in rural areas. So, the focus on quality education is seen as a major factor driving the growth of edtech platforms in India. The country is languishing in global ranking as far as the Human Development Index (HDI) is concerned. To improve India’s overall ranking, quality education is imperative and this can be achieved through promoting online mode of learning.
The government agencies in both centre and state have come up with various measures to promote online learning. For instance, PM E-Vidhya is a digital programme targeting 25 crore school students in the country. DIKSHA (Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing) is another programme that aims to create ‘One nation, One digital platform’ for schools. E-Pathshala is another initiative of the government, in which more than 3,500 curriculum content is accessible to students, parents, and teachers through a web portal or mobile app.
Therefore, online platforms- especially edtechs- have started to play an important role in India’s education system. The country’s quest to reach a $5 trillion economy can only be realised through rigorous upskilling of its workforce along with quality education to its learners at every stage. Both these can be achieved through leveraging technology-enabled edtech platforms. Despite the opening of offices, schools, and colleges, a hybrid mode of learning has taken precedence. So, the role of edtechs in the education sector is all set to rise further in the coming years. Despite churning seen among startups in the edtech sector, the future seems bright with sound growth prospects for the overall segment.
(The author is Bharath Kumar J, Co-Founder, Spoclearn, and the views expressed in this article are his own)