EdTechReview, in association with AWS EdStart, hosted a webinar on 13 August 2021 on the theme “Indian EdTech - Open For Vernacular Play”.
Experts from non-profit organization, venture capital, vernacular edtech companies who took charge of the discussion sharing their views, success stories, experience, approach and details on how vernacular in education can help the Indian edtech market reach its full potential.
The speaker panel witnessed the following dignitaries:
- Gouri Gupta, Project Director – EdTech, Central Square Foundation
- Saraswathy Ramamoorthy, Co-Founder, Learning Matters
- Mohammed Hisamuddin, Founder, Entri.App
- Rahul Maheshwari, Investor, Beenext Pte. Ltd.
Few snippets of the discussions from the webinar:
Huge opportunity for startups – "the vernacular in education" play and associated funding
Rahul Maheshwari shares his take on the edtech ecosystem in India and the funding aspect of the vernacular sector; he says, "The edtech ecosystem has surely matured in India when I look at the platforms like Byju's. But looking at the funding aspect of the market, especially for vernacular education, we haven't reached the milestone yet. It is underfunded currently and will be on the rise."
Is edtech helping the people in tier 2-3 India?
After research, observations, understanding the ground challenges in real-time and then developing their vernacular product, Saraswathy Ramamoorthy shares her experience of edtech usage in tier 2 and tier 3 India. She says, "Most of the edtech players are serving to the tier 1 consumer base. The tier 2 and 3 remains underserved, and we need to do something for these sectors as well." she explains how Learning Matters is doing so by bringing vernacular voice solutions to people. Their AI product, “Tara” - a virtual voice teacher powered by AWS voice technology – Alexa –, provides voice education in multiple languages through multiple languages.
Mohammed Hisamuddin added his insights to the session by sharing the story behind the evolution of the platform Entri. The platform offers vernacular learning content to upskill and train for various jobs. An ideal platform for job seekers in local languages. The company has over 1.6 million users so far, and the number is increasing multiple folds more than before. The company's founder shared how they took feedback, pivoted and developed Entri to what it is now; and also the importance of understanding the market from various perspectives to reach the potential user base and grow in the competitive market.
In between the discussions, the webinar had live polls for attendees to get the pulse of the audience of other edtech founders & investors, get their opinions on what they feel about the state of the edtech ecosystem, the importance of vernacular education and the driving factor for its success. Here are the results from the polls:
Seventy-nine per cent of people feel fundraising is a significant milestone in the startup journey.
88 per cent of people who answered believe vernacular is the next big trend and will attract massive funding in Indian edtech
And lastly, 50 per cent of people are exploring vernacular play for their edtech products, and 44 per cent would like to explore further for such products in the edtech ecosystem.
Gaps in Indian education & what can be filled by vernacular education play
Rahul Maheshvari started by sharing his take on the overarching key challenges facing the education ecosystem. He says, "Major factors for the gaps in the education ecosystem are governments budget on education that can be somewhat sorted by private intervention.” The other key challenge is the lower enrolment ratio in India. He also highlighted a key trend in automation of jobs, especially the blue-collar and grey collar jobs; which makes upskilling inevitable and fundamental to the economy's growth. “The gaps in the current upskilling segment have tremendous potential to be solved by vernacular education to be able to meet the modern education needs of the people by eradicating the language barriers”, he added.
Gouri Gupta added to the session by highlighting the importance of foundational literacy and numeracy. She says, "Technology and vernacular play have the power to support the government in achieving foundational literacy and numeracy by providing high-quality solutions for children to use at home and schools."
The various approaches one need to have to capture the vernacular education market:
Sharing the importance of looking into individual states and their needs, Mohammed Hisamuddin shares, "You must figure out things that'd work across India and things that'd only work in certain states. For instance, for Entri, we had to focus on specific parts of the country and bring solutions per demand and need."
Saraswathy Ramamoorthy adds to the discussion and shares the journey of Learning Matters on how they have offered solutions to the market demand. She says, "It's been an evolution of solutions. It was a journey of learning to get us there, including understanding the ground reality and what was needed in tiers 2, 3, and forth. We realized that while it was great to train teachers and the whole institutions through pedagogy, training, and other development factors that they didn't know before, the gap would continue to persist without the conversational English element. Working with vide variety of teachers across different states, we also realized the fact that conversational English had to become a part of what we were doing, enabling both students and teachers through a mechanism that worked for them to bring in the voice and conversational practice."
The webinar had discussions around other critical topics like evidence-based learning in the edtech ecosystem, standardized education through edtech solutions, growth opportunities, key challenges & strategies to solve them and the larger problems the vernacular ecosystem needs help with, like sustainability, relevance and engagement.
Learn more about the edtech ecosystem and its vernacular play in this webinar. Watch the webinar recording, access the QnA session and the polls. The webinar is a must-watch for all edtech founders, investors interested in the space and anyone keen to learn more about the vernacular approach to Indian edtech industry.
This webinar was supported by the AWS EdStart program. Click here to learn more about the program.
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