1. According to investors, India is the most attractive private education market in the world. 2. The covid crisis will expand the B2B opportunity to provide tech solutions to schools.
The massive demand for edtech solutions during the pandemic has created an opportunity for better learning, but access to the internet remains a challenge, as does the cost of connectivity and computing devices.
Addressing these challenges is key to scaling up edtech and making them accessible to all. It also requires states to look at better policies to ensure holistic learning, said participants at a webinar on Thursday.
“Google platform has been adopted not only in India but worldwide. With 140 million users and most of them coming online in the last couple of months, our role would be to provide those scalable platforms and ensure that there is access. Getting internet access with affordable pricing with devices for both teachers and students is the key,” said Bani Paintal Dhawan, head of education, India and South Asia, Google.
Earlier this month, Maharashtra became the first Indian state to collaborate with Google India in a statewide deployment of its Google for Education technology.
As part of the partnership, Google will roll out G-Suite for Education and Google Classroom technology free of cost, equipping over 23 million teachers and students.
The platform will also offer teacher training and free resources around distance learning contracts for educators.
According to investors, India is the most attractive private education market in the world. It has the world’s largest K-12 (Kindergarten to 12th grade) system with 270 million children, 10 million teachers and 1.5 million schools. And unlike most markets in the developed world, the Indian K-12 education is significantly privatized, with parents opting for paid private schools over free government schools.
However, teachers and students in government schools are finding it a challenge to navigate the pandemic with regard to tech-based learning.
“In government schools, the biggest question is device penetration itself which has come as a big challenge. While most certainly the kids and parents do not have a device, in case they do, it may not be a smartphone. So one way is to introduce edtech inside schools. So many organizations are taking innovative approaches and using philanthropic capital to put a device in the hands of students,” said Sarvesh Kanodia, principal, investments, Omidyar Network India.
Schools have also discovered blended learning. Though most private schools have responded to the covid crisis by combining self-initiative with freeware to deliver education at home, 95% of private schools are single school establishments.
Indian K-12 is behind the curve on the adoption of technology. Less than 5% of students attend institutions with the required tech infra to deliver remote learning. However, the coronavirus outbreak and the consequent lockdown has forced schools to prioritize the adoption of online and digital technologies.
“An important aspect for us is content. How do we ensure that not only vocational skills are being taught? Also, extend YouTube as a platform that would evolve for learning and how we have relevant content in Indian languages that we have already invested in. How do we develop skills across the board on that?” said Dhawan.
Google is trying to do project-based learning and develop vocational skills for senior secondary as well as higher education, Dhawan said. Google also wants a big set of creators and edtech players to come in to make available the best content.
The covid crisis will expand the B2B opportunity to provide tech solutions to schools. This is where startups and organizations can come in to fill the gaps, participants said.