Impact of Covid 19 on Edtech Industry in India | Growth or Setback?
one month ago in Education
As the world is dealing with a crisis due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of business sectors and industries have to undergo major financial losses. In India, the picture is not different. However, crises often bring a few opportunities too. After the Covid-19 outbreak, people have understood the value of digitalization. Working from home has helped many people to retain their jobs even in this difficult time. On the other hand, classes at schools and colleges have been halted. But, many students are availing education through online classes. The pandemic has brought a platform for the edtech industry to grow in India.
Over the last few months, a lot of significant investments have been noted in the edtech sector. At the same time, Government of India (GOI) has introduced a few plans to give support to the edtech industry. According to industry experts, expenditure in the edtech industry will be around $10 trillion in next ten years. A survey conducted by SimilarWeb has revealed that top edtech companies in India have experienced 26% of growth in visitors between April (2019) and March (2020).
Status of India’s Edtech before Lockdown
According to a report published by TRAI, the total number of internet subscribers grew from 665 million in June 2019 to 687 million in September 2019. The growth rate is around 3.35%, and the growth has remained steady throughout the year of 2019. Since 2020, higher growth of internet users has been noted after a nation-wide lockdown was announced by the Indian government.
Growth in the number of internet subscribers is a positive sign for the edtech industry. With a higher number of internet users, edtech businesses or startups can expect more traffic for the apps. Specialization of skills in the technology sector has also boosted the edtech industry in India. Students are seeking specialized courses. What could be more convenient than pursuing an online specialized course for skill development?
However, before the pandemic, there were many challenges for the online learning industry. The most important thing was the social outlook towards online learning. Learning something sitting at home without attending classes in an institution was a thing that Indian parents did not use to validate. After the pandemic, the outlook has changed to a large extent. Online-based learning is possible, and Indian parents have started believing in it.
Status of Edtech Industry after Pandemic
Since the nation-wide lockdown was imposed, outlook towards online learning has changed. Since the last few months, schools and colleges have remained closed. But, education for students has not been halted due to e-learning. With limited infrastructural provisions, many institutions and colleges are providing online classes to students.
The pandemic has also disrupted the orthodox higher education sector in India. A large number of students prefer studying abroad. But, pandemic has forced them to return to the country. In this scenario, online learning has become the best alternative to such students. Physical distances do not matter in online learning. Students can now attend online classes. For further assistance with their courses, they opt for various edtech applications or platforms.
How Lockdown Boosted the Edtech Industry?
According to the industry experts, there are around 5000 edtech startups in India at present. All these startups are offering courses in various segments. From vocation courses to professional skill development training, students have many choices for courses as per their areas of interest for studying. There are many edtech applications that intend to help school and college students to prepare for their board examinations and other competitive exams like JEE-Main, CAT, etc.
Lockdown has led to closure of schools, colleges and coaching centers. For students, e-learning is the best alternative at this point of time. Before lockdown, the edtech industry was growing steadily. After lockdown, the growth curve has taken a massive upward jump. India is now at the unlock phase, as the government has decided to lift the lockdown to resume commercial activities in the country. However, the GOI has not clarified the future of schools and colleges yet. They are expected to remain closed for another 4-5 month at least. Hence, even after the lockdown is lifted, online learning has still remained the best option for learning for students.
Challenges for the Edtech Sector in India
The lockdown has disrupted the orthodox education sector in India. As a result, the edtech sector has gained significant boost. But, there are still plenty of challenges for the edtech companies and startups. Some of these challenges are discussed below:
· Lack of Infrastructure: In the 21st century, not just electricity but the internet should reach every house in India. However, in the present scenario, it looks like a distant dream. The Government of India has pushed the rapid construction of fiber optical connections throughout the country through the Digital India scheme. In most of the urban and semi-urban places in India, high-speed internet connection will be available for everyone. However, it would take a good amount of time to reach the rural places. Till then, the edtech industry will be restricted within urban and semi-urban India.
· Lack of Affordability for Technology: Though the internet is a basic need in today’s time, it is not free in India yet. Many people cannot afford high-speed internet connection despite living in urban or semi-urban places in India. Not every person in this country has access to smartphone devices.
· Lack of Knowledge: Edtech will play a significant role in skill development. But, many people are not well-accustomed in using technological devices yet. This is a big challenge for the online learning industry. The industry aims to give skill development courses to people from all age groups. While young people in India are well-accustomed with smartphone devices and the internet, older people still struggle with clarity in understanding technology.
· Government Regulation and Policy: Before the pandemic, GOI did not have clear policies for regulating the edtech industry. Lack of government initiatives to promote the edtech sector used to be discouraging for startups or entrepreneurs. After the pandemic, the government has started initiatives to promote the edtech sector.
Government Initiatives to Support Edtech
In order to promote online learning, the Government of India (GOI) has introduced the SWAYAM program. Through this initiative, the GOI is aiming to address three major aspects of the education industry. These aspects are:
· Accessibility: Government has plans for infrastructural development so that everyone in the country can be benefited through online learning.
· Quality: Through various regulations and policies for edtech, the government is committed to provide quality learning to students.
· Equity: For the growth of an industry, equity or fund is the most important thing. Through the SWAYAM program, the government encourages startups and entrepreneurs to invest in this field.
Through SWAYAM, 42 post-graduate on-engineering and 82 undergraduate courses will be offered to the students in July 2020 semester.
For the encouragement of the teaching fraternity, the government has launched another scheme which is named as DIKSHA. This initiative aims to serve the teachers through the National Digital Infrastructure. It gives scalable and seamless digital infrastructure to students so that they can conduct the online classes without facing any difficulties. For delivering quality education with interactive learning experience through the online platforms, infrastructural support is essential.
To support online learning after the pandemic, GOI has launched an application, namely National Test Abhyas. This AI-powered application will help the students to take preparations for competitive examinations like NEET and JEE-Mains.
Surveys on the Future of Edtech in India
To understand the future of the edtech industry in India, various surveys have been conducted in recent times. Some of these surveys and studies have been highlighted in the following section.
· KPMG has released a report titled as “Online Education in India: 2021”. Determining the trends on Google searches, KPMG has predicted that paid users for various edtech apps or businesses will increase. It was 1.6 million in 2016. In 2021, it will be around 9.6 million.
· According to NASSCOM report titled “EdTech – The Advent of Digital Education”, the edtech sector has magnetized 5 times more funding in the last 5 years in India. It also underlines that more than 3000 startups have been incorporated since the last 5 years in this industry.
· A report prepared by DataLab revealed that India could procure potential $2 billion opportunities in the edtech industry. The report comes with the title “The Future of India’s $2 Bn Edtech Opportunity”.
Online learning is not a temporary platform for learning in the pandemic scenario. It is a platform that can make education easily accessible for everyone. Many people will get the opportunity for remote skill learning through edtech applications or startups. Skill development will fetch better job opportunities for the people. The future of the edtech industry looks promising in India. But, most importantly, growth of this industry promises better education for the country.