Call For A National Education Technology Policy!
To ask “to be or not to be?”, IS NOT THE QUESTION. With the EdTech market in India growing at a gigantic rate, there should be no dilemma about the urgent need for a national EdTech policy, for numerous reasons.
What is EdTech?
The most widely used and understood definition of ‘education technology’ is given by The Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT)’s as "the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using and managing appropriate technological processes and resources" (1). The Encyclopedia of Educational Technology also defines education technology as “... a systematic, iterative process for designing instruction or training used to improve performance” (2).
Let us take a look at the growing market in India and globally. The size of the market for education technology in the world was valued at USD 76.4 billion in 2019 and is now projected to grow at an annual growth rate of over 18% from 2020 to 2027 (3). In India, by 2022, only school online education is projected to increase 6.3 times to create a $ 1.7 BN market, while the Post-K12 market is set to grow 3.7 times to create a $ 1.8 BN market (4). If we look at what these numbers mean in terms of the growing number of education technology companies in India, there are more than 4,530 active EdTech start-ups in India today, out of which 435 were founded in the last two years alone (5) .
Why an EdTech Policy?
The astronomical rise of the educational technology market warrants an ed-tech policy in India for various reasons. First, stakeholders in education delivered via technology are not limited to just the students receiving them, but also include important enablers like their parents, teachers and tutors and peers. Turn The Bus deeply believes in participative models of development and believes that India could have a policy that encourages community participation and deeper stakeholder engagement (similar to the Turn The Bus’s model- insert link to our blog post). We believe that engaging the entire ecosystem is required to make meaningful advances towards sustainably achieving equitable access to education.
Second, development programs, including ones that use EdTech, have comprehensive monitoring and evaluation procedures to measure a project’s impact. However, there is a need for a national policy to measure the learning outcomes of large, private ed- tech companies, that go beyond market metrics, to actually monitor and evaluate their social impact too.
Third, we have discussed (insert previous blog link) that there is a gaping digital divide in India, one major factor of which is that there is not an easy availability of infrastructure. Given that our model itself is based on leveraging smartphones, we take this cause of concern to advocate for a national policy that actively seeks to bridge this infrastructural gap, through Public Private Partnership or CSR projects. Non- profits like ours, that are seeking to deliver quality educational content for free to the most marginalised students, would benefit substantially with such a national policy.
The NEP 2020 (6) has revamped the educational system in India in several ways and one of them is also by moving a focus towards regional and vernacular languages of students. Therefore, in line with this, an ed-tech policy should foster a spirit of providing content in local and regional languages, to make educational content usable to all students in remote places in India.
Grassroots organisations that work by deeply involving community members can benefit from a national EdTech policy in India in the above ways. With evidence on the growing EdTech ecosystem, we look towards the future with hopes for a national EdTech policy that could help revolutionise the impact of EdTech for- profits and non- profits in india.