India

‘Edtech startups have a big opportunity in India as more schools have become open to the idea of online t

NEW DELHI: Physicist and former

World Bank

economist, Sunita Gandhi founded Edtech startups, Global Education & Training Institute (

GETI

) and Global Classroom Private Limited (GCPL). With over 1,000 schools having adopted her curriculum and assessments, she talks to TOI about the road ahead for the sector. Excerpts:

Where do you think the education ecosystem in India currently stands?

India has the largest population in the world with 600 million and above people between the ages five to 24, mainly where the education industry plays an important role. At present, the industry caters to about 250 million school-going students and the numbers keep increasing for education and related services. India’s education industry has a huge potential and different players in the market today are helping it to become child centric as well as research oriented with the help of the central government. There is a massive opportunity, particularly for edtech startups as more schools have become open to the idea of online teaching, amidst a global

pandemic

. Organizations are making education customizable, scalable and profitable for education providers as well as seekers.

Education industry has a massive potential and with the help of technology, it can be possible to unleash the latent possibilities of making this sector as the world’s leading education system.

What things can be done better in an online and offline education environment?

It is very difficult to criticize online education as it is at a very nascent stage. Both teachers and students were caught off guard when they had to sit at home and practice digital learning. However, if we keep going this way, an online education environment could be one of the most successful methods of teaching, if carefully combined with traditional learning. Educators as well as learners are new to the platforms and have taken enough time to get used to the technology, however, both the parties must make efforts in strengthening the virtual relationships. Content must become accessible and available for all, irrespective of geographical as well as logistics barriers. Learning a CMS could be fun, but it could also be tricky so if we must make it the new normal, we must ensure our kids and their teachers are accustomed to the potential of these tools and use them carefully.

While we become used to online teaching, there must be measures to prepare traditional classroom teaching methods that can fit into this new mold. When the pandemic is over and schools resume, authorities may need to reconsider the methods of teaching as a hybrid of online and offline teaching could become the new form.

What problems are you trying to solve with GETI and GCPL?

Since the teacher training sub-sect of the education industry is largely unorganized, with GETI we bring transparency and accuracy of the services that are needed. GETI’s services are helping the education society by bridging the gap between teachers’ present set of skills and their expectations. On the other hand, GCPL is mentoring educational institutions facing setbacks and helping them with good results. Most schools in tier-2 and -3 cities face issues such as higher staff turnover ratio; disruptive environment; lack of infrastructure and facilities; and inadequate number of teachers per student ratio. Much of this leads to poor branding of these schools and GCPL helps them with infrastructural as well as operational guidance.

Private and public education—which industry is where and why?

Public education sector of India is suffering primarily due to lack of infrastructure, enough funds, and equipment to deliver quality education. Despite constitutional policies and economic planning, India is unable to achieve complete literacy. Even today, 35% of our population remains illiterate. Apart from that, the dropout ratio is alarming. Students between 6-14 age groups often leave school before even completing their education leading to wastage of financial and human resources. Schools in the public sector are deprived of basic facilities like drinking water, urinals and electricity, furniture and study materials etc, which is another reason for such a high dropout ratio.

For private schools, on the other hand, have mounting challenges ahead of them due to a global pandemic and increasing difficulty involving parents, students, and teachers who are not comfortable with the changes. Another challenge in the private education sector, more than 50% of students have limited access to internet or internet enabled devices such as laptops or mobiles. Unless the channel of education is accessible to all of its participants, it can never be utilized to its potential.

What is your plan for the next 18 months?

With GETI, we are planning to expand our teacher training modules in farther places and cover as many schools as we can. We are also planning to expand our B2C segment that includes pre-service training to non-metro cities. The pandemic has already let industries switch to online methods of doing business, so we are launching our programmes on the web. We are currently targeting more than 30 cities to start pre-service training in the next 18 months.

GCPL’s focus is to expand both franchisee and lease model. We are aiming at creating revenue using our Franchisee model to subsidize the initial capital needed under the lease model. We are targeting to bring at least 15 schools on board with us in the next 18 months.

Lohit Soundarajan

Founder , Editor Tech Guy #Voxguy

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