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Encouraging free exchange of ideas

As technology seems the answer to bridging the education gap,, consistent efforts are on to make it a commonly held asset across India

SAIJU ARAVIND | New Delhi |

In India, an intense gap has always existed in learning levels brought about by monetary, social and geographic factors. As a result, the country has been missing out on its undiscovered human capital. But with increasing awareness, internet penetration and urbanisation, tier 2 and 3 cities are slowly becoming open to new forms of educational tools.

To give a push to the same, make education accessible and streamline the sector, the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has been released. According to the government, “It is a new education policy for the 21st century. It is important, as for 34 years there were no changes in the policy”. The policy aims to encourage online and digital education and make it more integrated, holistic, flexible and learner-centred. Some major changes that are expected to revolutionise the education sector include one regulator for higher education institutions, a credit-based system, more focus on mother tongue, lesser focus on board exams, integration of vocational education from Class VI onwards, and reduction in school curriculum to the core concepts.

Growing edtech market

Instead of buckling under the unpredictability of the situation, the in-charges of educational institutions have created a new space on the back of this unprecedented state of affairs. When “stay in touch but no touch” remains the dictum, education providers are conducting online classes, sharing worksheets and tutorials on online platforms. Needless to say, increased awareness and accessibility to online education is perhaps the only good thing about the pandemic.

According to a KPMG and Google report, the Indian edtech market is expected to reach $1.96 billion by 2021. However, the growth rate is expected to increase considering the pandemic situation when education across the country has shifted online. A report by Omidyar Network India backed up by RedSeer Consulting’ analysis predicted that the edtech market will 120 per cent growth in FY2020 and reach $1.7 billion by the end of the year.

With NEP 2020 come new opportunities for edtech start-ups

The pandemic created a demand for online learning which bought new growth opportunities for the edtech sector. As a result, edtech companies are now looking at new paths, exploring new markets especially in Tier 2 and 3 cities and expanding their learner base. Further, with NEP, the future looks promising and will for sure welcome the birth of new edtech. There is scope for several new edtech start-ups joining the space. Talks of mergers and acquisitions have already been doing the rounds in the space with some well established players already sealing deals.

Under NEP, an autonomous body called the National Educational Technology Forum will also be set up to encourage the free exchange of ideas and enhance assessment, learning, planning and administration.

As technology seems the answer to bridging the education gap, consistent efforts are being made to make education a commonly held asset across the country. Considering that the 21st century workforce will be centred on technologies that did not exist a decade ago, edtech companies are leading this change whether it is about giving a platform for schools to run completely or online teaching coding to school kids.

The NEP also aims to set up an Academic Bank of Credit to enable digital storage of credits that a student earns from different higher educational institutions. These credits can also be counted as part of the final degree. This is expected to deliver huge benefits to students belonging to tier 2 and 3 cities as they can get credits by just adapting online courses.

Further, the credit bank offers huge scope for online higher education. The edtech players can help small colleges come online and start offering credits. This will not only make higher education easily accessible but also open up great opportunities for these players. As policy’s vision is clear in its focus on technology for educational efficiency, we will see many e-courses being developed in regional languages. The technology would be a core part of teaching, assessment, education planning, learning, and student training. Therefore, there are new growth opportunities which await the edtech sector. Edtech players will now explore new paths to expand their learner base especially in tier 2 and 3 cities and cater to the needs of this upcoming consumer segment.

Educators across the country are moving to virtual classes to ensure learning keeps going, connecting over interactive and collaborative tools in remote learning scenarios. These tools are enabling human and social interaction. This is perhaps the only silver lining of the crisis that it has pushed the education sector to discover the potential of e-learning.

With NEP, the times ahead will welcome unprecedented changes in the way education is delivered across the country and also, give a major push to edtech industry.

The writer is founder, EduBrisk Knowledge Solutions