The pandemic is reshaping the world with companies of all sizes having to downsize, rethink business models and even close shop. Against this backdrop of doom, there is one sector in India that continues to boom – edtech.
Interest in the edtech space was high even before the pandemic hit. It’s no secret that the Indian education system is flawed and does not provide equitable access to quality education. All measurements of learning outcomes leave an embarrassing report card in the hands of a country hoping to cross over into a ‘developed’ state on the back of a knowledge economy. Worse still is the fact that Indians spend a lot of money on education. Since the year 2000, India has outpaced China, Europe, United States and the rest of the world in terms of growth in consumer spending on education in real terms. It’s a $135 Bn market and yet, our teachers are overworked, undertrained, underpaid and working in exploitative conditions, while our students are ranked at the bottom of the list in global rankings.
Against this backdrop, betting on edtech seems fair, especially since the need for the current system of change is so dire. Edtech is a new competitive industry made up of new-age companies providing standardized training at scale with constant measurement of what the user is learning and auto personalization of their overall experience.
This use of technology enables a commitment to the learning outcome of each user in ways that were not possible without it. And the cost of enrolling in an edtech program often starts at free! No wonder many expect that the internet giants that will emerge out of India, one of the world’s youngest economies, will be in the edtech space.
Let’s consider China – a market where edtech is at least 5-10 years ahead of India. China is home to the world’s largest education companies. The top two players have a combined market cap of $25 Bn who together account for 1-2% of the market share! Even after years of investments, growth and returns, it remains a highly fragmented market with several profitable players continuing to grow. This enables new companies to come in with innovation and deliver better products for all kinds of users.
There are two major reasons for that. One, education is not homogeneous – what works for one age group does not necessarily work for another. Two, there is just a lot of material to teach and learn, in many languages, and for many different purposes. As the context of the training changes based on any of these vectors, the pedagogy best suited to teach it changes too.
Edtech companies, like Virohan, a healthcare-focused edtech company that recently raised its series A round of funding are investing significantly in their tech platforms. The objectives are to engage the users, using a lot of the same principles used by social media and games to drive user engagement. Virohan’s tech platform is constantly identifying the leaders and laggards of each class, providing that information to the teacher and using gamification to keep the laggards hooked until they are all caught up.
“We bring together the best of technology, education, entertainment and healthcare to provide the most reliable achievement of learning outcomes in the healthcare domain,” says Kunaal Dudeja, co-founder and CEO at Virohan. This focus on user engagement mixed with quality training has allowed Virohan to scale its footprint 5X, even during a strict lockdown.
This level of personalization is just not possible in a standard classroom. Edtech provides predictable learning outcomes to students in an accessible, affordable manner with tons of flexibility and delivery tailored to each student’s learning style. This combination is a fundamental disruption of the industry that has led to irreversible change. And while the pandemic did not start the Edtech revolution, it certainly became the catalyst the industry needed to leapfrog ahead.