Educational Disparity

India: Edtech Capital. Bharat: Awaiting access to Education

India: Edtech Capital reads the headlines. Is it actually true or merely a gimmick of the statistics?

Just casually read an article on LinkedIn News India. The headline is a clear indication that the pandemic has been successful in unveiling the seamless blind privilege that extends across all vectors.

The original news, which is from TOI read “Pandemic turns India into Edtech Capital of the world”. I saw it from a perspective that has missed the scrutinising eyes of the newspaper, perhaps it has always been so. They have been missing this since a long time. I saw it from the perspective of those kids who travelled in blazing hot temperatures with their families back to where they came from. Perhaps their numbers in the millions, they were driven back to their places with no hope for schooling or access to education. Their families had fled to big cities in the hope and desire for a better life. The pandemic snatched their dreams in a blink.

What we essentially forget when we think of Education

Education for the poor and marginalised has always been a taboo, just like sex education. While millions have been poured into education, there yet remains a large portion which has been pushed out of schools.
Several reports like ASER (2018) have pointed out to the stark fact that the picture of education looks all rosy and cosy only when excluding the rural and marginalised communities. Their’s is an entirely different story.

The UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report puts India 50 years behind on achieving its Universal Education Goals. It further states that the deadline of 2030 for achieving these goals would be possible only if India makes fundamental changes in the Education sector.This was in 2016. It is 2021 and there aren’t any fundamental changes being made. The NEP is a paper tiger, just like all other schemes.

Post-Pandemic : the rise of Edtech industries

This was before pandemic. The scenario after pandemic is abominable. Millions of migrants were impacted including their children. Now, these children consist of the large population of children who are enrolled in the Public Sector Schools and account for 65% of the total students. The rest belong to the Private Sector Schools. The private schools have seamlessly moved to online mode of education which spurred the growth of telecom and edtech companies. There are scores of news and personal accounts where public sector school students have either had loss of education or lack of access to digital resources. How ironic! Digital country’s citizens lack access to digital resources. We have sent spacecrafts and satellites to space and mars, but can’t send digital resources to those who long for basic education.

During the pandemic, the tech-merchant community of India successfully managed to capitalise on this pandemic by prospering into the Edtech Business. Education, after all is a business for most part. The major reason mentioned for this spike in the education business was that of the clichéd “Low cost of operations” which has been the same old success story for the IT industry: Hiring a person abroad costs four times as much as hiring in India. (Foreigners: I’ll charge $120,000; Indian: $30,000 me main kaam karega).

Quality Matters?

The report doesn’t talk about the quality of Teacher/Trainer hired to provide the requisite services, but pours volumes on how much enrollments they have made and how much moolah they have raked in. Not surprisingly, most of their revenue has been from off-shores; the places that have business practices far different from us. No wonder, they are buying into Edtech like hot cakes. It is only when the cakes will give constipation or burn their tongues will people realise that the hot cake wasn’t really worth it.

What Surveys tell us

A survey across 18 states post-pandemic brings out the fact that over 40 million migrants have been impacted. a whopping 46.2% of their children have discontinued schooling over various reasons. Reports by local news and reporters have displayed this vulgar truth. There were some parts where access to healthy food was a daily question let alone receiving education.

A report from UNESCO predicts that out of the 150 million migrant labourers face the risk of displacement from work. The worse is that 40% of their children will end up in work rather than in schools.
Another survey points out to the gaping hole- India’s smartphone penetration is a mere 24% and access to internet is just 50%. Half of the times, one can find people struggling for network range and internet connectivity. Adding insult to injury is the lack of electricity in rural areas, where load-shedding is as common as sunrise.

The surveys point out to the excruciating fact that the Edtech Startups have missed: 40%-46% of students will not be able to access education. Isn’t this an irony! The nation that boasts of being the Edtech Capital, isn’t capable of educating its very own.

India: Edtech Capital?

While the stats and ratings may show that our Edtech ventures are prospering in this sector, there’s no quantifiable and reliable data to show that our masses have been holistically educated. It still remains a looming question, are we really being educated or just degreefied?

Update: While the Education Ministry has released guidelines to identify and educate migrant children, it largely remains what it simply is : a Guideline.


1. UNESCO GEM Report (2015-16)

  1. New Indian Express. (Dated 22nd July 2020; Last accessed on 15th March 2021)
  2. India Today (Dt. 10th Jan 2021; Last Accessed on 15th March 2021)
  3. The Statesman (Dt. 26th June 2020; Last Accessed on 15th March 2021)






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