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EdTech Essay, Edtech Boom

EdTech was among the sectors that got a fillip, when the pandemic brought most others to a stand still. With education rapidly moving online, EdTech is set to see a flurry of a ctivity

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Technology had invaded the space of education long, long before Covid-19 struck the world, beginning with the introduction of computers in the class- room and subsequently digital applica- tions that make learning easier. The pan- demic though, was that necessity that proved the mother of invention, and edu- cation technology (edtech), suddenly was an industry segment that was in a flurry.

August 2020 saw the education tech- nology platform, Byju’s, owned by Think and Learn, acquiring the coding platform, WhiteHat Jr. in a $300 million deal. The idea was to make the fast-growing seg- ment of coding in education technology available to stu- dents. This is just one example of how rapidly the sector is expanding.

According to a report by Redseer and Omidyar Network India, the EdTech space is projected to increase 6.3 times to $1.7 billion by 2022. The Covid-19 pan- demic only provided an impetus to this rapidly rising sector, which was growing on the back of increased internet penetration across the county and digitisation of primary education. While the pandemic was wreaking havoc across sec- tors and impacting livelihoods and sanity across classes, the EdTech sector saw a healthy growth because schools and colleges shut down and classes had to move online. During the first few weeks of the lockdown, DIKSHA, a digital platform for school educa- tion launched by the Government of India, reportedly registered over six million views.

EdTech can play a crucial role in upskilling professionals and pro- viding job security by making higher education accessible. The Redseer and Omidyar Network India report highlights the massive opportunity for the EdTech sector over the next few months.

NEP Gives It Wings

The sector will get a further boost from the newly released National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 that promotes use of technology to improve multiple aspects of educa- tion. The policy proposes to create a body called the N a tional Educational Technology Forum (NETF) to provide a platform for free exchange of ideas on the best use of technology for enhanced learning, planning, assessment and administration for education.

The NEP 2020 recognises the need to leverage the advantages of technology while acknowledging its potential risks and dangers. It emphasises the need for carefully designed pilot studies to determine the benefits of online education. The existing digital platforms are to be optimised and expanded to meet challenges with the aim of provid- ing quality education for all. To this end, the focus on the Digital India Campaign will be ramped up and teachers will be given the required training to become effective online educators.

The policy, a much-needed revi- sion of the system of education prevalent for 34 years, highlights the need to create enlightened stu- dents who are productive, empow- ered and contribute to the economy. It stresses the need for education in the mother tongue or regional lan- guag e.I temphasises Early Childhood Care and Learning (ECCE).

IN THE FIRST FEW WEEKS OF THE LOCKDOWN, DIKSHA, A DIGITAL PLATFORM FOR SCHOOL EDUCATION, HAD OVER SIX MILLION VIEWS. EDTECH CAN PLAY A CRUCIAL ROLE IN UPSKILLING PROFESSIONALS AND PROVIDING JOB SECURITY

In the sphere of higher education, the policy provides for multiple exit and entry points, a system that should become effective as early as the 2020-21 financial year. The NEP 2020 allows credit transfers, which should be in place by December 2020 for certain institu- tions. The three-year degree pro- gramme in vogue will be replaced by a four-year degree programme for central universities. Common entrance tests for colleges are expected to become effective by 2021.

The New Education Policy is being hailed as a winner with much awaited changes that should trans- form the education system in India for the better. The rider here, though, will be effective implemen- tation of the pathfinding strategy.