As we face what may be the most significant medical crisis of our times with the Covid-19 pandemic, we may be staring at yet another global recession. Similar to the 1918-19 Spanish flu, which infected around 200 million people and killed almost a fourth of it, coronavirus also has no cure and will possibly keep spreading until it dies out naturally like other pandemics. According to analysts, if the virus keeps spreading for a year, it could have a leading effect in economic disruption, which could be as bad as what happened during the 2008 recession.
In fact, in the current situation, due to the lockdown of China’s Hubei province – the trade hub of the country – the whole value chain of the industrial production got disrupted. Alongside, all affected countries have been enforcing isolation, with movements being minimized or discouraged, businesses being shut, mass meetings cancelled, and the entertainment industry and restaurants temporarily ceasing operations. With Covid-19 cooping people up in their homes and disrupting businesses across every sector, this might genuinely signal an economic downturn.
Global Pandemic & The Rise of Edtech Industry
The Covid-19 pandemic has left industries helpless, but ed-tech-based companies are seeing a boom in their sales, as the outbreak came as a blessing in disguise for the industry. The online education sector has had explosive growth in recent months with 3,000 new jobs projected in the industry. In fact, investors are stepping up their interest in the ed-tech industry, recognizing its potential at the time of the upcoming economic downturn. According to reports, the investment amounts to $18.66 billion globally, involving investors such as Facebook, Matrix Partners, and GGV Capital.
India has been consistently witnessing significant growth in the ed-tech industry of the country; a KPMG report, once stated that the Indian ed-tech market has been expected to reach $1.96 billion by 2021. According to Ronnie Screwvala, the owner of upGrad, the company has seen significant growth this year. “In the last two months alone, when news of the possible epidemic began to spread, the company hired more than 200 graduates and postgraduates from 20 different universities,” said Screwvala.
Experts predict that the recent generation of learners will be pushed towards virtual learning with this outbreak. And, with its adverse effects impacting the global economy, the industry felt the urgency of offering comprehensive online solutions for learning. Online education proved to be a blessing for countries like China and South Korea, where the lockdown has continued for more than two months. This change has benefitted private ed-tech companies as the majority of the mass started adopting online learning and development.
This increasing health crisis of coronavirus “highlights the importance of having things like this accessible,” stated Sal Khan, the founder and CEO of Khan Academy, in an interview. “It would be a good practice to be able to virtualize education at the touch of a button.”And, therefore, several educational institutes and governments around the world are also kneeling towards virtual education.
In order to join the fight, the Kerala government has announced that it would provide all necessary resources to promote online learning in the state. The government has decided to provide extra bandwidth for learners amid the crisis. Bengaluru-based ed-tech startup Byju’s has also put in its efforts to fight the pandemic by making its 1-12th class courses free till the end of April 2020. Similar to Byju’s, other ed-tech startups like Toppr and Vedantu also joined in the forces with their free courses for video classes and pairing up with schools for conducting live teaching sessions of concerned subjects, respectively.
Alongside, Simplilearn is providing free access to its AI, ML, big data, and cybersecurity courses to its users. The company empathises with the possible restrictions due to the crisis and thereby continue to support their users with free online programs. Vedantu, diversely, started providing real-time personalized tutoring for its Bengaluru, New Delhi, Kerala and Hyderabad users, working toward quadrupling its growth and adding 30% more employees this year. Separately, Coursera is also offering online resources for users amid the crisis. Along with new and free resources, the ed-tech company is also offering interesting course collections, community discussions, and expert interviews.
With the help of these free online courses, students and professionals, who are willing to give entrance exams, are managing to upskill themselves. Considering, there is a heavy chance of this pandemic to have a drastic implication on the future employment industry, initiatives like remote learning can provide rescue for the ed-tech industry. Besides, experts also believe that remote learning can create a change in the industry, as educational institutes are managing to provide necessary online resources for students’ learning and development, there might not be any reason left for them to return to the traditional concepts of education.
The longer this crisis would last, the bigger its impact will be on the economy. And, if the pandemic crisis continues to spread, there is a strong possibility that online learning may soon be the norm. The ed-tech market, long before the crisis, has been predicted to grow significantly in the coming years due to massive investments and industry initiatives. However, for now, it can be assumed that the global crisis acted as a game-changer for the ed-tech industry.
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Sejuti currently works as Senior Technology Journalist at Analytics India Magazine (AIM). Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org