Amidst the rising competition in education sector and increasing interest of students towards learning, edtech startups play a pivotal role in imparting knowledge
Kaberi Baruah from Assam could not afford to enroll in a good university. Today she is one of the trainees of an online course at a reputed university. The remote location is no more an impediment to his career. Thanks to burgeoning start-ups, education is becoming increasingly accessible. The slew of government incentives and proliferation of technology has given a fillip to start-ups. By leveraging technology and latest innovations like data analytics and artificial intelligence, these ed-tech start-ups are increasingly disrupting the traditional ‘chalk and blackboard’ model of education.
With India currently housing the second largest population of the world and poised to become the country having largest youth population by 2020, education sector in India today presents a more benevolent picture than the yesteryears. According to an estimate, the education market in India is worth US$ 100 billion, with K-12 sector comprising 60 per cent of the share.
But the education sector is not without problems. The sector is deeply fragmented. The demand and needs of each student, education boards and competitive exams differ vastly from one another. Though India is closely moving towards the universal enrollment, learning outcomes continue to be poor. The ASER report highlighted that only 32% children in Std III could read simple words in English. There is no standard mechanism to measure and improve learning outcomes in youth. The outdated curriculum, large student-teacher ratio and mushrooming of sub-standard educational institutions and coaching centres are some of the ills plaguing the education system. There may be few quality players in the education system but there is no standard benchmarking system to identify them.
Given this scenario, the proliferation of ed-tech start-ups comes as a boon to students. By offering a plethora of online courses, which offer flexibility, customization and convenience, these start-ups are increasing trying to bridge the gap in ensuring equaliity in education. As India is en-route to being the fastest growing economy, it is imperative to bring out the best potential in students. Democratizing access to education is the first and vital step of the process.
These courses, though cannot replace traditional education, are being increasingly preferred by working professionals as it enhances their employability. These start-ups supplement the educational learning of students. Learning today is no more a dull exercise, thanks to innovative offerings like interactive videos, virtual classrooms and customized modules by ed-tech start-ups. It is here that a new dimension of education called edutainment comes into the picture. The widespread use of mobiles among students has also given way to the concept of micro learning courses which decode the lessons in the simplest way. Today, there is no dearth of guidance available to a student if he gets stuck on a particular maths problem or is unable to comprehend the lessons; the online tutoring sessions offered by many ed-tech start-ups come to the rescue.
Besides the domain of learning, ed-tech start-ups are increasingly disrupting the assessment model. Leveraging Big Data effectively by start-ups has led to the discovery and communication of meaningful patterns in data. It has eased the process of assessment of not only of the students but also of the faculty. These start-ups have also forayed into education loans segment which was once considered the exclusive domain of banks, to make the process more convenient and hassle free. In a nutshell, these ed-tech start-ups have penetrated every segment of the education sector and are heralding a revolution in every domain. Thanks to these start-ups, the education sector is beginning to show signs of consolidation. But will these start-ups last or finally burst like a bubble? With the cut-throat competition being the stark reality, ed-tech enterprises compete with not only their counterparts but also schools and colleges. Another challenge for these start-ups is to battle loads of free content that is available online. Coming to funding prospects, risk investors remain guarded on the prospects of the start-ups in this sector. The key to the survival of these start-ups in the rat race depends on their ability to innovate and offer personalized ecosystem by integrating edutainment and result –oriented learning. The road ahead for ed-tech start-ups is definitely not smooth but will be ultimately beneficial to the education sector in the long –run.