The central government is working on a policy to regulate edtech players operating in the country. The aim of the proposed policy is to curb monopoly, and prevent the exploitation of students by some edtech platforms through lofty promises or unfair practices.
The Union Education Ministry is in talks with the Ministry of Law, and Ministry of Electronics and Information and Technology (MeitY) to work out a common policy for the sector, which has been witnessing an upswell in the past two years.
Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on January 3 said he respects edtech firms and is not against their business growth. “But there cannot be a monopoly…you cannot exploit students,” the minister noted.
He said the government’s role is that of a guardian for youngsters and his ministry has observed that some edtech firms are exploiting students in the name of loan-based courses.
“We are in talks with the Ministry of Law and MeitY about how we can have a common policy on edtech platforms,” Pradhan said during an event organised by All Indian Council for Technical Education (AICTE).
The minister said last month he directed all the departments under him – school education, higher education, and skill development and entrepreneurship – to issue advisories.
In December, the Education Ministry had issued an advisory asking the student community to take guard against unfair practices amid growing chatter of poor delivery despite lofty promises.
“Do not blindly trust the advertisements of the edtech companies. Do not sign up for any loans of which you are not aware. Do not install any mobile edtech application without verifying the authenticity,” said a recent advisory from the government.
On January 3, Pradhan said he does not wish to control knowledge, but asked edtech firms to become collaborative partners, and work with the government to reduce learning loss. He said both domestic and international edtech companies are operating in India and he would discourage monopoly by some.
India’s edtech start-ups are on a demand upswell since the outbreak of the pandemic. The demand has put firms like Byju’s, Unacademy, upGrad, Simplilearn, Vedantu, and others in a fast growth trajectory. Dozens of start-ups have garnered funding rounds from investors, betting big on Indian start-ups that are seeking to capture a pie of the massive education market in India and abroad.
There is no government data available on the number of edtech firms operating in India as of now. According to startup data intelligence firm Tracxn, “there are 9,043 EdTech startups in India”, as of December 25, 2021.
Pradhan said more than 12 lakh socially and economically disadvantaged students have received free ed-tech course coupons worth over Rs 253 crore. Of these, at least 4 lakh coupons were given to students from Uttar Pradesh.The e-coupon was given via the National Educational Alliance for Technology (NEAT) initiative where technical education regulator AICTE and dozens of edtech firms are working together. NEAT is an initiative to provide the use of best-developed technological solutions in the education sector to enhance the employability of the youth on a single platform for learners' convenience, according to the government.