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MRC: Learnings For The Future

Education on online platforms offers flexibility to the learner to consume the material anytime and anywhere. It also provides interaction opportunity across borders

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The spectrum of the Indian education system is very broad. At one end of it, the Indian education system is a picture of dilapidated buildings, broken blackboards, minimum furniture, untrained or semi-trained teachers and half-filled classrooms with demotivated students struggling to read, write, speak and learn. This is real and is an everyday issue across hundreds of villages, blocks, and district level schools not far from major cities in India. The state of affairs in the far-end of the length and breadth of India is even worse. In some cities and towns, the situation is relatively better but still far away from the desired standards. Some states have done better than others, but the overall situation in a country of 1.3 billion population remains grim as far as basic education goes.

But when it comes to professional courses, the other end of this spectrum, there are these world-class institutions that have made a name for themselves around the globe. Be it the fast expanding chain of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) or the prestigious network of Indian Institute of Management (IIM), the quality of education and infrastructure is not short of international standards. For that matter, the quality of education and infrastructure of some of our Universities too are above par. Be it the Delhi University or the Jawaharlal Nehru University or the likes of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), or the Indian Institute of Sciences, there are hundreds of examples that make us all proud. 

Experts point to insufficient funds, lack of long-term vision and planning and of course, ever growing population as some of the headline challenges that continue to pose problems even after seven-and-half decades of gaining independence. Massive short-fall of trained teachers is another major aspect of this multi-dimensional issue. So what can solve this problem? What is the best alternative to the traditional way of education?

Conventional Vs Online Education
Formal education in the country is said to be one of the oldest systems and lacks behind due to its traditional model of learning. Although, with the world-wide accepted conventional model of formal education, the education space has been disrupted with online education or e-learning. With the advent of future generation technologies, every sector is undergoing digital disruption and so is EDUCATION! Given the technological advances taking place day by day and the demands on students or candidates’ time and pressure of learning effectively and efficiently,  online education will play a crucial rule in undergraduate, graduate and professional education in times to come.

According to a report, ‘Online Education in India: 2021’ by KPMG India and Google, the Indian online education market is set for a quantum growth of eight times by the year 2021. “The online education market in India currently stands at USD 247 million and is estimated to witness an 8X growth over the next 5 years to reach the USD 1.96 billion market in 2021. This growth will be backed by a phenomenal rise in the paid user base for online education in India, which is expected to grow from the current base of 1.57 million users to 9.5 million users in 2021 at a CAGR of 44 per cent,” the report states.

Therefore, it is pertinent to understand here that online education goes beyond the realms of secondary, post-secondary and tertiary education. It also offers courses and modules for competitive exam preparation, professional skill enhancement, and other non-academic subjects that are otherwise hard to find in a regular offline University of a college. Experts, therefore, say that what started as an enabler for connecting students and content providers, the role of online education platforms today have drastically changed to content curators and providers.

Growth of Online Education
Education on online platforms offers flexibility to the learner to consume the material anytime and anywhere. It also provides a different sense of community engagement for the learner by opening an interaction opportunity across borders. The Online Education Industry as per the latest survey done by KPMG is set to cover approximately 9.6 million learners in by the year 2021.

The online education sector in India is evolving at an exponential rate owing to a variety of reasons. From growing penetration of internet and smartphones to cheaper and faster internet, the advent of better technology coupled with the growing popularity of online courses are driving the aspirants.

Available data shows that in the past two years alone, the Indian Online Education industry has seen a 2X growth in online searches for education and a 3X growth in searches from a mobile device. Around 40-45 per cent of education searches are now coming from beyond the top-6 metros and there has been a 4X growth in education content consumption on YouTube in the last one year alone.

The number of internet users in India has registered an annual growth of 18 per cent and was pegged at 566 million in 2018 mainly driven by rural internet growth and usage. Similarly, India is also the world’s third-largest smartphone market with a number of users expected to reach 400 million by 2020.

With the internet, there is huge accessibility to young demographic (14-40 year-old), the most active consumers, to enrol in online education, say experts. Online education, according to one expert, fulfils the educational requirements of the younger demography without compromising on time and cost. Online courses also provide diverse degrees as well as certificate courses that are easily accessible to the urban and rural population.

 Cost Effective

Online education providers reach out to consumers without setting up a physical infrastructure or incurring administrative costs such as staff salaries, stationery, books, etc. Hence, passing the cost savings to the users. Today, India churns out more graduates than most countries around the world. And the Indian job scenario is currently reeling under the twin pressure of layoffs and job paucity, especially due to automation and slow-down in the global economy and the Indian economy. Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), a leading think tank data shows India’s unemployment rate today stands at 7.5 per cent.

Owing to all the above stated factors, both job-seekers and working professionals feel a need to gain, refresh or enhance skills through career advancement courses. By educating through online platforms,  the chances of landing better jobs, switching  jobs, getting promotions, negotiating better pay packages and staying industry-relevant is possible.

Government’s Digital Friendly Initiatives
Meeting the needs of an aspiring India in which all sections of the society seek better standards and access to education, the ruling government aims to have the largest network of working age population in India by 2030. “By 2030, India is set to have the largest working age population in the world. Not only do they need literacy but they need both job and life skills,” the Finance Minister Niramala Sitharaman said recently.  

The government, therefore, has made announcements for the commencement of degree level full-fledged online education programmes that will provide quality education to students of deprived sections of the society as well as those who do not have access to higher education.

Going forward, the medium of Online Education stands a very bright and promising future and it is on its way to become the next sunrise industry. The trio of Content, Delivery and Access will act as change-agents in shaping up online education.  

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