Vikas Kakwani, Founder, AAS Vidyalaya

With lots of blessings, some perseverance, and a bit of luck, Vikas has come a long way from the narrow lanes of the old Meerut city where he was born and brought up. After graduating with an honors degree in Electrical Engineering from IIT(Roorkee) in 1993, he joined IIM(Lucknow) from where is passed out in 1995 majoring in Marketing & Finance. Vikas has worked for 20+ years from the ground up to leadership positions across FMCG, Telecom & Real Estate sectors in India & Middle East. He started his career with Marico Industries and then moved to Coca-Cola before flying off to foreign shores in Dubai and worked in the unchartered waters of Real Estate where he experienced the boom and the bust. He returned to India in 2010 and worked in the Telecom industry for some time post which he helped a PE fund set up an FMCG company just before embarking on his own entrepreneurial journey in 2016.

 

The education industry has undergone a revolutionary change in recent times. Although these changes were ushered in by a chain of unfortunate events, the results have been astounding, especially for the edtech industry. Edtech start-ups that had received $553 million worth of investment in 2019 are receiving nearly $2.22 billion now. Another report by RedSeer and Omidyar Network India states that India’s edtech industry is expected to reach $3.5 billion by 2022. Almost all the companies in this sector have fared well and are looking forward to expanding themselves in the coming quarters. But it was not so before COVID-19.

Until some years ago, the concept of an online classroom was frowned upon and not considered with any seriousness. The only role that technology was thought to play in children’s lives was a distraction, straying them away from their actual goals. Though things have not turned smooth they are changing and have created a need in the market. In India, accessibility is a major roadblock, only 20 percent of students have access to both laptops and smartphones, whereas 20 percent have access to smartphones, 30 percent have access to only feature phones and the rest 30 percent have no access at all. Such a scenario does bring forward lots of challenges as well as opportunities for the edtech industry. To understand the opportunities open to the edtech industry and to gauge its growth, one has to return to the time when the pandemic had just hit the country.

The nationwide lockdown in March 2020 had sent our 250 million student population into a state of disarray. Given that the country was still grappling even to understand the situation, the hardships faced by students were barely considered.

While some urban institutes and student populace did turn to the online medium, their strength was still numbered. In rural areas where the infrastructure is limited, such solutions have largely remained out of reach.

But clearly, the Covid challenges were here to stay, and returning to the brick and mortar classroom was unthinkable and remains so. It was in the face of such a crisis that the edtech companies stepped in to solve the problem both for students as well as parents.

The figures may surprise you, but it is only until you pay closer attention to the kind of role edtech companies play now. Conventional classrooms and teaching methods often missed out on essential points such as creativity and logical thinking. But these problems are readily solved by edtech solutions.

The technology used by these platforms is well researched, and so are the teaching methods. So combining cutting-edge technology with a personalized learning methodology can deliver much better results.

Given that all other methods are exhausted, parents too are forced to step out of their comfort zone and try out the new wave of education for their wards. So many of the myths that surrounded the edtech industry are also getting debunked today.

Now, if you are wondering how edtech can reach out to the rural masses and the disadvantaged, you only have to look at the innovations by some of the leading companies. Using the impetus of the government for Digital India along with the increased internet penetration, these edtech firms are ensuring that their content is available at the lowest possible cost.

Further, popular platforms such as Youtube and Social media apart from their own dedicated apps are also helpful. The fact that these apps can be downloaded easily with most of the content being free for users means edtech companies are striking the right balance between profit and the cause of imparting quality education.

With the pandemic situation still lingering, analysts have predicted that the edtech companies’ positive growth trend will sustain in the upcoming quarters. But, even after the situation changes, these platforms are here to stay. What is likely to change is rather the conventional attitude to education. In fact, the time is not far when almost all conventional classrooms will depend on edtech solutions for a more wholesome education of students.

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