The Indian Edtech Consortium (IEC), a self-regulatory body for edtech companies in India, has helped the sector in improving advertising standards at a time when it has come under fire for mis-selling and over-committing, according to Byju's co-founder Divya Gokulnath.\ “Since it (edtech) was at a nascent sector there were mistakes that were made and in education even small mistakes can become big,” said Gokulnath, who is also the co-chair of the Indian Edtech Consortium, speaking at a panel at the GSV Emeritus Summit.
“We wanted to learn from our mistakes and I am happy to share that right from advertising standards to the way in which we communicate our offerings to students to the way in which we service them, on all these parameters, we have improved as a collective body,” she added.
Gokulnath’s comments on the IEC improving advertising standards come at a time when her company, Byju’s, has come under fire for alleged mis-selling of courses from parents and students. Not only Byju's, but also its group companies, as well as Unacademy and its group companies, have received an increasing number of mis-selling complaints in recent years.
Earlier this week, consumer affairs secretary Rohit Kumar Singh slammed Byju's, saying that edtech companies should not bombard students and parents with advertisements.
“I can see a representative from Byju’s here. We had called all the edtech companies. I said ‘Boss, don’t advertise so much. Don’t put pressure on students. Don’t have Shah Rukh Khan telling a mom that two tutors are better than one tutor, get two for the price of one,” he said speaking at a technology conclave in Delhi.
Moreover, the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) summoned Byju's in December after a media report claimed that the edtech company was exploiting students by hard selling and misselling its courses. Byju’s later issued a set of policy changes including stopping on-field sales, and avoiding selling to families that earn less than Rs 25,000 a month.
In November, chairperson of the Independent Grievance Review Board (IGRB) of the IEC and retired Supreme Court judge BS Chauhan had told Moneycontrol that the board continuously advises edtech companies to avoid using ambiguous language in their advertisements.
Krishna Kumar, the founder of the higher education edtech platform Simplilearn and a member of the IEC's management committee, concurred with Gokulnath and invited all edtech companies to join the IEC. Currently, not all companies are members of the consortium, but according to the IEC, approximately 95% of the student community is covered. However, the IEC members acknowledged the need to improve awareness of the complaints forum.