Budget 2021: How 2020 was for Ed-tech companies and looking ahead at 2021 : 17-12-2020

Union Budget 2021-22 Expectations for education: The pandemic has been a major catalyst in enhancing the growth for ed-tech start-ups and investors. There has been a significant surge in usage of online courses, language apps, e learning software and video conferencing tools since the coronavirus outbreak. Though ed-tech was already popularising and witnessing significant growth over the last few years, the crisis has catapulted the sector into the limelight.

Let’s dig deep into how the ed-tech sector has evolved, before and during COVID, and what the future beholds.

Pandemic Changed the Face of Ed-tech

2020 saw the dramatic transformation of education as the education fraternity as well as learners retreated to the safe confines of the digital dimension. The in-charge of educational institutions across the country created a new space on the back of the unpredictability of the situation instead of buckling under the unprecedented state of affairs. Many educational institutions leveraged the scenario as an ideal time to experiment and permanently incorporate digital technology into their education delivery model. Though the rapid switch from traditional class room set-up to digital tools has been challenging for both students and teachers, the adaptability of e-learning has been massive. According to NASSCOM, the ed-tech market in India is expected to reach $3.5 bn by 2022 which was earlier expected to be in the range of $2.8- $3.2 bn.

Kiran Dham, CEO, Globus Infocom Ltd. said that “2020 witnessed the evolution of the edtech industry. Covid-19 led the digital revolution of the education industry & transformed the way education is delivered. By now, students and faculty across education have experienced and somewhat adapted to remote or online learning. Advanced technologies like Cloud based learning, App based learning etc have helped students & teachers to not miss on the classroom learning experience. Apart from K-12 education, professionals and students pursuing higher education have also turned to Ed-tech for vocational training, skill up gradation and several hobby based learning courses, which has further added to the growth of the sector. Technology kept the continuity in education while making it as engaging & interactive as possible.

In 2021 the education industry will further evolve in terms of technological advancements & revised pedagogical methods. The norms which have been established will sustain for the better. Schools & Colleges (Private/Government) will be collaborating with Education technology companies to leverage digital aids like cloud based learning, AI based learning resources, online assessments, analytical thinking digital tools & digital operations. Education and Technology would together make an impressionable impact on the Teaching and Learning mechanism”.

Yogesh Makkar, CEO, KAPDEC Inc. said that in 2020, Covid-19 has proven to be a dramatic accelerant of online learning, forcing billions globally to shift from on-premise to online learning platforms. “The ed-tech sector has witnessed exponential growth, and it is forecasted that trend will continue over the next several years. Not only has there been a surge in activity from the learning community, but investor interest has spiked as well,” Makkar added.

UNESCO (1) predicted the CAGR (cumulative annual growth rate) in e-learning, from 2019- 2027, globally, Before Corona (B.C.) it was in the neighborhood of 16%; however, After Disease (A.D.), the forecast has increased to 26%.

“The above shift in growth can be accounted for by a single factor – increased awareness. At a macro level, we predict growth for the ed-tech companies offering e-learning solutions such as Learning Management System (LMS) helping K-12 schools run the blended learning programs, and the K-12 supplemental coaching, both for the online tuitions as well as self-study online courses,” Makkar said.

Sriram Subramanian, Founder, and CEO of Clever Harvey divided impact on edtech in 2 spheres. First he says that online is now normal. “Previously considered an inferior or subpar version of physical classes, online has now been accepted as a new normal and parents/students are discovering the benefits of virtual instruction – hours of sitting in traffic have been saved and the opportunity to interact with and learn from people all over the world from their homes has opened up (eg Clever Harvey has run programs where students collaborated across 4 countries to work on team projects), he said and added that secondly, the market is now flat. “It seems that every edtech company can access markets well beyond its own geography. This has opened up Tier 2 and 3 markets in India like never before,” Subramanian added.

Forcing major changes in education across various levels, from early schooling to adult learning and career development, the pandemic has revolutionised the education system as well as made ed-tech a key player in the education industry. We cannot deny that what remains a great inconvenience for many, COVID-19 has benefitted the ed-tech industry immensely.

The Future

While the pandemic has already brought about major changes in the education system, 2021 has in store several advanced digital tools and techniques that will further evolve the way digital learning systems work. The tech trends like gamification, big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, integration of wearable devices and virtual labs, cloud data storage and blockchain will reshape the ed-tech industry in the coming year.

With millions of students, India has a multi-layered education system which is a combination of formal education governed by state and central bodies, and informal education via vocational education and coaching classes which assist formal education. Online education has a bright future and so does the ed-tech industry. This is driven by increased consumer adoption supported by macroeconomic changes and improvements in product offerings.

Sriram Subramanian says that in 2021 online learning will continue to be prevalent, parents and students don’t want to let go of the convenience they have discovered. “Edtech companies will battle high CAC (Customer acquisition costs) as all companies can access all markets. We are going to see a shake-up in the industry, as high burn models will eventually become unsustainable and only those players with unconventional customer acquisition models or very strong CAC: LTV ratios survive and emerge stronger,” he said.

Budget 2021 Expectations

According to NITI Aayog’s estimates in January 2020, education expenditure, which was 4.6% of GDP at that time, must increase to nearly 6% over the next 3 years. Further, while Union Budget 2019 allocated Rs 94,800 crores for education, the amount allocated in Budget 2020 was Rs 99,300 crore. It is expected that Budget 2021 will give a thrust to the education sector with a lot of opportunities and endeavours. Budget share on education has indeed increased over the years, but it still needs a lot of improvement to match the needs – ensuring inclusiveness, adding infrastructure and most importantly, improving the quality of education.

Summing Up!

Since the world is still battling the pandemic, the ed-tech industry can expect significant growth in 2021 as more people stay glued to digital learning. The current pandemic has changed the way education was perceived, accelerated the digital transformation of education and ed-tech start-ups have grown exponentially which means that the industry will continue to grow and disrupt the way students learn.

Source : Financial Express

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