Indian ed-tech arena needs ranking framework on lines of NIRF

Indian ed-tech arena needs ranking framework on lines of NIRF

As digitalization of education delivery gains pace in India, it would be in the fitness of things if, going forward, authorities could come up with a ranking framework for the country’s burgeoning ed-tech arena.

Over the last few years, India has seen the launch of several ed-tech start-ups, some of whom have now attained the status of ‘unicorns’ (start-ups having a valuation of more than $1 billion). Apart from the huge size of the Indian market and the willingness of a younger population to try out newer avenues for meeting their learning needs, the growth in the nation’s ed-tech space has also been considerably fuelled by the fact that there are currently no rules and regulations governing this segment.

According to the India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), the Indian ed-tech segment was worth $750 million in 2020 and is expected to reach a size of $4 billion by 2025. Indian ed-tech start-ups raised more than $ 1.43 billion across 100 deals in 2020 [1]. 

An ed-tech ranking system – modelled on the lines of the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) that currently exists for conventional higher educational institutions – could ensure that students planning to avail the services of education technology companies can take more informed, data-backed decisions while choosing ed-tech service providers of their choice. Currently, the selection of specific ed-tech companies by prospective students and their parents has often been influenced by how frequently they get to see the ads of these organizations.

A transparent, grading framework for ed-tech companies – with the assessment criteria and weightage assigned to each category being determined by a panel of experts drawn from government, industry, and academia – would provide students the opportunity to see for themselves how various education technology firms compare with each other on different key parameters. As a result, it could considerably lessen the chances of students falling prey to tall claims made by some of these organizations. Putting in place a ranking framework would especially benefit students living in the smaller towns and cities who often lack access to credible information in the public domain on how many ed-tech companies are going about their businesses.

In this context, it may be relevant to point out that, in an advisory issued in December 2021, the Union Education Ministry had urged citizens to be cautious while dealing with ed-tech companies. Among other things, the Education Ministry, in its advisory, had asked citizens not to “blindly trust the advertisements of the ed-tech companies”. The Ministry had also pointed out that “success stories” shared by ed-tech companies should not be trusted without carrying out a proper check [2].

A ranking arrangement for ed-tech companies could benefit the student community in other ways, too. Many ed-tech companies would be wary of compromising on their service standards once this system is put in place due to the fear that a drop in rankings could make it that much more difficult for these entities to attract an adequate number of high-paying students. A slippage in rankings could also present challenges for several ed-tech companies in being able to raise funds at higher valuations from prospective investors. The upshot could be an increase in the minimum level of consistency in the quality of education delivered by the ed-tech sector.  

For India to be able to realize its commitment to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4), namely, “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong opportunities for all”, it is imperative that all education providers in the country – including ed-tech firms – significantly improve their functioning. A ranking framework for the ed-tech sector could go a long way in this connection and it would be good if stakeholders associated with the education segment could act on this in right earnest.



About the Author

Sumali Moitra is a current affairs commentator. Twitter: @sumalimoitra

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