Societal problem of access to Edtech: Great learning
The rapidly growing education technology (edtech) space, led by the unicorns of Bengaluru Byju’s and Unacademy, has a serious problem to solve. How do low-income families access quality education digitally? India’s pandemic-induced e-tech boom – the industry has reportedly raised more than $ 4 billion in venture capital over the past 18 months – has only widened the gap between the haves and have-nots, as access to a single smartphone is a luxury for many Indian households.
“Yes, there is absolutely a gap – people can access these (edtech platforms),” says Mohan Lakhamraju, founder and CEO of edtech Great Learning, which was recently acquired by Byju’s for $ 600 million. ” addressing exclusively to Fortune India, Lakhamraju said, “It is an important societal problem that exists and we have to find ways to solve it. “
But it wasn’t like there hadn’t been a split before, he retorts. “How many people could access high quality education? I would say now (via edtech) that the number of people who can access high quality education is two orders of magnitude higher, ”he adds.
Founded in 2013, Great Learning, which operates in the professional and higher education space, has provided more than 60 million learning hours to 1.5 million learners from over 170 countries. Byju’s has allocated an additional $ 400 million to accelerate the growth of Great Learning.
“It wasn’t until you went to the top 100 educational institutions that you got a good education,” says Lakhamraju. “But India has 40,000 institutions. So most of the people were not getting a good quality education. In schools too, he said, most children lacked access to quality education because India lacks good teachers. “I would say that now, thanks to technology (yes, a family can have only one device) they can access much better learning experiences,” he says, adding that Great Learning’s user base has increased 15 times since March of last year. The edtech company continues to operate as an independent unit under Byju.
“We solve the following problem: once someone has access, how does they get the best learning experience? How can there be a level playing field in terms of quality? This is the problem we are solving, ”says Lakhamraju. He believes the “social problem” of access will hopefully be resolved when the prices of electronic devices drop. In addition, new digitally driven business models like Jio would further bridge the digital divide.