The pandemic has been a fillip to the edtech industry. Edtech platforms getting on in an acquisition conquest, fund flows, and increase in enrollment of online programmes are major indicators of the industry reaping profits and have made education more accessible and quality-oriented. But, has the edtech wave reached the lower socio-economic strata? The glaring statistics can precisely answer the above question. A national sample survey by ICRIER and LIRNEasia, a think tank focusing on digital policy finds that only 20 percent of school children in India had access to remote education during the pandemic, of whom only half participated in live online lessons.
Lack of internet access, gadgets, and unfamiliarity with virtual tools has created the divide of digital education in India. According to a study by Azim Premji Foundation, approximately 60 percent of the school children’s education in India is affected due to no access to online learning. Lack of access to online learning has further led to an increase in dropout of children from school. A report by Unified District Information System for Education finds that around 15 crore children are currently out of the education system. The numbers for school girls dropping out are even more distressing as 10 million girls are on the verge of dropping out as found by the National Right to Education Forum.
According to a study by Azim Premji Foundation, approximately 60 percent of the school children’s education in India is affected due to no access to online learning.
One Class One Channel: Making education accessible to all
Factors such as poor connectivity, unavailability of gadgets, and lack of digital learning in vernacular have kept students away from formal learning in times of pandemic. In the union budget 2022, the government has taken some concrete measures to provide quality education to students through multiple platforms. The measures include fibre-based internet connection to every village by 2022 and expand the One Class, One Channel’ programme to cover 200 DTH channels and grades 1-12. In addition to this, the government wants to open digital university to provide quality education to students from weaker socio-economic backgrounds to pursue higher studies without incurring huge costs or hardship.
What edtech platforms should relook?
Providing educational content in vernacular languages is a highly untapped market for edtech. The medium of teaching on edtech platforms being English has prevented the edtech players from serving the students of rural India. With the government now taking steps for a robust internet network edtech platforms should develop and provide educational content in vernacular language. Further, with the development of the digital university and channel programmes the edtech players with their vernacular education content can partner with several state governments and India’s largest socially responsible corporations.