The advancement of technology and its ubiquitous use in daily lives has brought rise to its integration in the education field. Known as edtech, which is a portmanteau of the words education technology, this industry has seen rapid developments over the years. From the West to the East, countries have been using the latest technologies as an aid in education delivery, from pre-schools and grade schools to universities.
When COVID-19 began spreading, it unintentionally triggered a global scale experimental platform for the edtech sector as schools across the globe had to suspend classes and turn to online learning. At its peak in April, UNESCO reported that globally, 91.2 percent of students, which accounted for almost 1.6 billion people, who were enrolled in schools across 193 countries, had their education interrupted. As such, many had to recalibrate the way their education was delivered to them, which brought rise to the growth of the edtech industry.
Globally, edtech was valued at US$252 billion in 2020, with a projected growth to US$341 billion by 2025. With its growing population and its focus on learner-centric programs, Asia is leading the rest of the world when it comes to edtech industry growth. This is primarily due to China’s and India’s commitment to invest in the innovation of education through the use of technology to accommodate its large population. In 2019, these two Asian giants had secured 70 percent of the world’s edtech venture capital, bringing rise to some of the fastest growing edtech companies in the region.
One such example is Byju, a Bangalore-based edtech startup founded in 2011 by Byju Raveendran. The lockdowns in India saw this multi-billion dollar edtech company, which is valued at almost $11 billion, shoot up in its worth and appeal. Prior to the pandemic, Byju reported that it took them almost four and a half years to reach a following of 40 million students. However, when COVID-19 struck, the company saw its numbers hitting 65 million students within a couple of months. Despite them offering free use of their edtech platform during the pandemic, the company still predicts more than $1 billion in revenue for the year, indicating the massive success of this edtech company.
The positive response that Byju received during the pandemic had translated into further development of the edtech industry in India. From acquiring edtech startups to advancing the technology used in the delivery of education via games and simulations, Byju is one of the edtech companies in India that is paving the way to restructure education and bring it beyond the confines of the physical classroom.
In China, edtech companies are incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) in their developments, taking education to the next level. For example, Squirrel Ai Learning, founded in 2014, seeks to transform the education process through the use of an “AI system simulated human teacher” which is deemed to be many times more efficient than traditional learning methods.
Such a learning system, if presented on a large scale in the near future, will allow for education to transcend borders and financial backgrounds, giving an equal opportunity for knowledge seekers, no matter where they are from.
The advancement of edtech in the Asian region is a welcomed transformation, as it allows many who are in more rural areas without a proper educational infrastructure to receive quality education, simply via the use of a smart device, which is becoming easily available even in villages. If anything, COVID-19 has proven how beneficial the edtech industry is in successfully continuing education seamlessly, and as such, is full of potential for industry players to tap into.