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Education: Breakout Year For Edtech

In 2020, Edtech changed the way education is imparted in India, thanks to the pandemic. And in the coming years, NEP 2020 is expected to boost its already impressive growth

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The Covid-19 pandemic not only changed the way students are taught, it also spurred education technology (edtech) to up its game quickly. Technology in the classroom has always been advantageous to education, enabling personalised, mastery-based learning, saving time for teachers and equipping students with the digital skills they will definitely be requiring in the 21st century. In light of the pandemic, thousands of schools and millions of learners and teachers have had to switch to remote classes almost overnight. Thankfully, edtech made things easier, replacing conventional paper-and-pen pedagogy for the better.

The changes edtech has brought forth will continue to affect physical classroom teaching and learning. As educational institutions are getting ready for a full return to schools, many are pondering which of these changes would play a greater role in students' learning beyond the immediate crisis.

Zishaan Hayath, CEO & Founder, Toppr, says, "This year has not only changed education as we know it, but it has also coerced all stakeholders of education to find better learning solutions. The changes edtech has brought will continue to influence classroom teaching even after schools reopen."

From an estimated size of $700 million today, the edtech market in India (that includes higher education, professional skilling courses, and, of course, primary education) is headed for an eight to tenfold growth in the next five years. This is because of the massive adoption of online education following the outbreak of the pandemic that brought with itself lockdown of most institutions including schools, colleges, and professional institutes.

Kavish Gadia, CEO & Co-founder, Stones2Milestones, bets on this momentum continuing. "When the pandemic hit, it was a demonetisation moment for parents all over again. They were suddenly confronted with turning to edtech solutions to ensure their children's education could continue. While this wasn't unprecedented, the speed of adoption has been phenomenal and there is no stopping this in 2021," he says.

Hayath believes the after-school market - coaching and tuitions - will be completely reimagined. "Currently, India has about 70 million students who are paying for after-school learning. We predict that over the next 2-3 years, about 20 million paying subscribers from this segment will migrate to digital learning," he says.

Edtech, which was already clocking a healthy double-digit, year-on-year growth before Covid-19 struck, suddenly got a massive boost with an inflow of investments, acquisition, upgradation in offerings, and more players quickly shifting and adding students thanks to one of the lowest Internet data charges.

Today, there are over 4,530 active edtech startups in India, out of which 435 were founded in the last 24 months. The total funding raised by these edtech firms since 2010 stands at $2.46 billion.
Says Rohit Manglik, CEO, EduGorilla, "Amid the suspension of classroom teaching due to the pandemic, online learning emerged as the panacea to sustain the momentum. The ed-tech segment continued to be under investors' radar and exemplified resilience despite the pandemic."  
NEP 2020 as a Catalyst? 
The edtech market is expected to receive a massive boost from the recently announced National Education Policy (NEP 2020). When implemented as recommended, the Indian education sector will further see a massive public  spending that will further fuel the education market in the country, experts say. NEP 2020 recognises the need to leverage the advantages of technology while acknowledging its potential risks and dangers. The existing digital platforms are to be optimised and ex panded to meet challenges with the aim of providing 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.

August 2020 saw the education technology platform Byju's acquiring coding platform WhiteHat Jr. in a $300 million deal. The idea was to make the fast-growing segment of coding in education technology available to students. This is just one example of how rapidly the sector is expanding.
Data sourced from Omidyar Network India backs up the analysis by RedSeer Consulting that India's $735-million edtech market, which accounts for less than 1 per cent of India's $90-billion private education market, is predicted to grow 120 per cent in FY2020 and reach $1.7 billion by the end of 2020.

A 6 per cent CAGR in student enrolment is expected to be seen in the market which will boost the market to approximately 53 million in FY25. The online lifelong learning market will expand as well as the pandemic has instituted the requirement for continuous learning. Certainly, good times are ahead for the edtech players and students.

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NEP 2020 COVID-19 EduGorilla magazine 5 Jan 2021