(Your Story, July 4th) Owing to the steady economic growth and globalisation, education in India is no longer just a teacher talking to a bunch of students in a classroom. With more than 370 million internet users and hundreds of local as well as global business tycoons willing to invest in the future of education, online education in India has picked up pace. In fact, the E-learning market in the country is estimated to be worth more than $3 billion.
India is now the third largest online market for education in the world. This enables people to take better advantage of the resources available online. We have more than 1 million registered schools and 18,000 higher education institutions. However, 4 percent of children never start school, 58 percent don’t complete primary schools, 90 percent don’t complete secondary school and only 10 percent go on to college. What is going to happen to the 90 percent? This is where startups like Khan Academy enter the market with meticulously curated content, even in Indian languages, based on NCERT textbooks.
In fact, online education helps people get access to a world-class learning experience when traditional higher education is simply not possible due to financial or personal constraints. Some may also suffer from physical or mental disabilities that make learning in a classroom impossible. For these students, online courses, specialisations and degree programs can offer an incredible opportunity to continue their education and build careers for themselves.
These days, employers look for more than just the basic skill set in their employees, they look for a long-term relationship with the organisation. Often, appraisals and promotions are awarded on the basis of reskilling. This is where companies like Embibe and Simplilearn enter the picture with their courses for mid-level professionals. Similarly, UpGrad, which was launched in July 2015, also aims to create a flexible, industry-relevant learning experience for professionals. Alumni from respected business schools like IIT, Wharton, and UCLA also participated in this education revolution with their own venture called SlideRule, through which they claim to help people discover the best online courses available in every subject.
Even established players like Udacity have shown a keen interest in the growth of online education in India. Udacity wishes to democratise education in India and improve the chances of upgrading skills of mid-level professionals. They have created a ‘nanodegree’ programme specially customised for the Indian market with discounted prices and appropriate content.
Here is a real-life account of how online education is improving lives in India:
Dr Balesh Jindal works as a physician in one of India’s small towns. She took the Social Psychology course offered by Wesleyan University on Coursera. For the course’s final “Day of Compassion” assignment, she decided to make an effort to address sexual violence in her community. She visited a local school and spoke with more than 2,000 female students about inappropriate touching and how to report incidents of abuse. In her conversations, she uncovered multiple cases of abuse by neighbours, brothers, cousins and even fathers. She was so moved by this experience that she decided to make this outreach a regular part of her routine. Balesh now sets aside one day each week to work with local children and their families.
Well, all of this essentially says that there is going to be a big future of online education in India, but it definitely has a long way to go.