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  • Priyank Sharma

Reality of edtech in low cost private schools

I spent some time with several low cost private schools that are increasingly using edtech products for teaching-learning. I met the students, teachers, principals, and specifically the sales people of these edtech companies.

Five realities:

1. Schools are buying edtech products to be able to better sell their schools to prospective parents. While there's some belief that the products are good for improving learning levels, but that is secondary.

2. Adapting to the edtech products is painful at the start. But the best part is that many edtech companies support and work hard with schools to help them adapt. The catch is that schools are suddenly trying to push too much of edtech learning - now that we have bought the product, use it! This largely impacts the role of a teacher in the school space.

3. Many edtech companies' textbooks are still not making simple important changes for context. For instance, using Jill and John instead of local names in the textbook. I saw a child asking his father: "What does Jill mean?" I don't know when we will realize that contextual products are key to any learning process.

4. Sales people's most common pitch to affordable private school principals:

"Sir/Ma'am, aaj nahi to kal aapko lena hi padega, ab jamana badal raha h, sab edtech pe shift ho rahe hain, ap jitna jaldi loge utna aapka fayda"

(Sir/Ma'am, the world is changing, everyone is shifting to edtech; today or tomorrow, you too will have to. Sooner you shift, the better brand you can make for your school).

5. There's a range of low cost private schools (for instance, fee ranging from 8000 to 30000 INR per year). Now the 30K per year school will buy your edtech product only if you don't sell the same product to a nearby school that charges less fee. The schools' selling proposition to parents should be unique!

In a nutshell, business becomes primary reasoning for both edtech and the low cost private schools. Now, one can say that schools are going to be resistant to change and it's fine if edtech products are pushed through aggressive sales, and it's also fine that schools buy it only for the business it brings in the form of admissions. However, I am not sure what would this entail for the future of education.

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