Almost every aspect of our lives is dominated by computers and the internet, so it is no surprise that education is slowly shifting to the digital domain. The EdTech industry is making inroads into schools, colleges, and even our homes. A large number of entrepreneurs are venturing into this space and it is expected that the industry will see an uptrend in the next three to five years owing mainly to the 'Digital India' campaign, the cultural importance given to education and falling mobile data prices.
Currently, India ranks second only to China with 348 million internet users. It is expected that India will have about 555.3 million users by 2021 and such projections are bound to push the growth of EdTech companies in India.
Among the top investments in the EdTech sector in 2017 was Byjus raising about $30 million from Brussels-based family office Verlinvest in March 2017 and about $40 million from Tencent in July 2017. Entrepreneurs are keen on investing in EdTech not just in the kindergarten to 12th grade (K12) segment but also in open online courses, where people from India are the second largest consumers. According to former CBSE Chairman, Ashok Ganguly, “The one-size-fits-all theory doesn’t work anymore. We must ensure proper use of technology at every level of education.”
“As half of the population is under the age of 25, the future of education in India heavily relies upon online learning,” said Ashwin Damera, Executive Director, Emeritus Institute of Management. According to a report by Google and KPMG, the online education industry in India was worth $247million in 2016 and is poised to grow eight times to become a $1.96 billion industry by 2021. Vidushi Daga, the Founder of Mumbai-based Whizjuniors, which is a social gamified tech-learning platform informed, “EdTech has given the learner a more interactive platform for learning and assessment. Though India is at a nascent stage compared to its global peers, it is growing at a substantial rate of 55%, with over 200 million devices connected to the internet.”
Over the past few years, EdTech has extended its scope beyond schools and colleges. Lucknow-based EduGorilla offers free digitalised course content for competitive exams like CAT, UPSC, CA, and IIT. It has managed to capture around Rs. 17336 crore of the EdTech market in India. Its CEO Rohit Manglik said, “The burgeoning EdTech firms have devised new methods to make learning interactive and provide customised learning solutions. Live and interactive modules, online worksheets and tests that can be accessed from any corner of the world are the amazing advantages.”
There are more than 850 million mobile phone subscribers in India. According to a report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), mobile internet is largely used by youngsters with an increase rate of over 10 million users a month. Not only are Indians realising the potential for mobile learning, but major technology and publishing companies are also increasingly becoming aware of the potential of the education services delivered through mobile phones. Online skill enhancement courses are estimated to be about 53% cheaper compared to offline alternatives.
But there are disadvantages, too. The EdTech industry faces high drop-off rates as many online courses are self-paced wherein there are no points of engagement, which in turn results in lower completion rates. “In addition to the poor digital infrastructure, sustained engagement with candidates who don’t see value beyond just skills learnt is difficult. This leads to a high drop-off rate,” said Rahul Belwalkar, CEO, SecUR Credentials.