The pan-India reach of EdTech favors our multitudes

The education industry had to endure the hardest hit during the covid pandemic. However, during these tough times, we saw exponential growth in the education-technology industry, and remote learning, which used to be frowned upon and was inaccessible to several parts of India, saw access get easier and is now viewed as a great alternative to regular in class learning. To assess the sustainability and effectiveness of the EdTech industry, we first need to look at the catalysts for its growth.

Online education is far more affordable and accessible than traditional education. Long gone are the days when in-person attendance or presence was required. As per industry reports, education from grades 1 to 12 has increased around 6.3 times in 2022, as compared to 2019. Due to its affordability, flexibility and easy access, children from different economic and social backgrounds can get access to quality education through online educational platforms. Moreover, the Indian government has played a huge role in encouraging initiatives by EdTech companies, helping us make education accessible to anyone anywhere. Some of the initiatives taken by the government are Swayam (Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds), Diksha and its e-pathshala initiative. These initiatives have also encouraged educational institutions in rural zones to switch to online methods of teaching, and have helped ensure the continuity of academic learning regardless of circumstances.

A recent report states that in the next 10 years, the EdTech industry is set to expand by $30 billion and increasing demand seen by this sector is attributable to post-covid normalization as well as acceptance of remote learning by parents and students. Till recently, most students in rural India were unable to get basic education due to a paucity of infrastructure. Even when they wanted to attend school and learn, they were unable to because of factors such as no school being available within reasonable proximity of their residence. EdTech platforms are slowly but steadily seeing into rural India and creating new opportunities. Through the prevalence of EdTech learning, the need for a traditional classroom has become a thing of the past. Students can now learn in the comfort of their homes, and also study at their convenience, while supporting their families as needed during the day. It is easy for students to sign up for classes through smartphones, which are widely owned now. Payments for these courses or classes can be done online through either a credit card or UPI, and those who cannot afford classes can sign up for free courses through various social initiatives run by Byju’s, Coursera and others. Lastly, a lot of these courses are available online in vernacular languages, which helps bridge a language barrier in alignment with the National Education Policy 2020.

Technology also helps in personalizing the learning experience as per the student’s needs, and EdTech applications can track a student’s performance and behavior to come up with courses that suit the individual. It also eases the burden on teachers to formulate specific study plans, since EdTech tools also assess and assist students with personalized lesson programs.

There are three key contributors. If they work together as a team, they can help solve the problem of access to technology and its adoption in rural areas. These are samaj (society), sarkar (government) and bazaar (market). The role of the government, corporate houses and society is crucial, and they need to work together to focus on access, adoption and association.

There are several ways to encourage and employ EdTech in rural India. Partnerships of the public and private sector are among the most efficient methods and have proven to help in providing people with quality content through remote classes. If government schools and Edtech businesses work together, they can help provide both lectures and study material and build the essential infrastructure for an online school. Teachers in rural schools can also be facilitators who ensure that students in rural India receive the same quality of teaching. That, in turn, will provide them with a level playing field in terms of education and its quality. Another effective way is to use the power of television and radio to market and spread awareness about the flexibility, affordability and accessibility of digital learning in distant parts of the country. Lastly, the use of vernacular languages ​​to teach students in rural areas can help ensure that they understand what is being taught. This would result in fewer drop-outs and class repetitions.

With Ed-Tech, a child can study anytime and anywhere without locational, financial or work-related constraints. EdTech apps can play a crucial role in areas where the teacher-to-student ratio is unbalanced, and can provide these youngsters with access to a variety of job options in various fields, even as it boosts their confidence. From a child sitting in the remotest corner of northeast India to one forced to stay at home in Jammu, and from a farmer’s child helping parents with farming in Bihar to another traveling a long distance to attend school in Uttarakhand, no one should be forced to lose out on essential schooling from now on.

Digital education has brought hope to millions of children who are not going to school or not getting proper education. It will connect ‘Bharat’ with India as the power of e-learning works in favor of our masses.

Kirit Solanki is a member of the Lok Sabha and chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Welfare of SCs/STs.

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