Shubhra is a pedagogist par excellence and one of India’s most well-recognised academicians and policy influencers in Political Science and International Relations. She is considered a role-model, coach and mentor by millions of youths across different geographics and educational backgrounds. Her lucid exposition of even complex and abstract ideas equips students across all academic backgrounds to articulate their thoughts persuasively. In addition to Civil Services, her counsel is highly sought after by budding social entrepreneurs, panchayat leaders and members of parliament/legislative assembly. The impact of her pedagogical methods can be measured by her students’ unrivalled UPSC selection success rates and achievement track record in their chosen pursuits. Prior to co-founding Shubhra Viraj Edutech, she was part of the top faculty team at Vajiram & Ravi. She has also taught in various Delhi University colleges and worked as a Research Associate at the Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA).
EdTech is like the idea Victor Hugo talked about – its time has come, and no force can stop it. It has revolutionized industries across the board and the education sector is a telling example. From its current market size of $700-800 million, India’s EdTech industry is estimated to grow into a $30 billion industry in the next 10 years. The agility and dynamism shown by the EdTech sector in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic have paved the way for version 2.0 of academics and examinations.
The Future of Government Exams
Let us look at the current scenario. Since 1991, the state has been steadily paving way for private players while continuing to play the regulatory role. Privatisation, along with digitisation and automation, has led to a decline in the number of government job vacancies. For e.g., we see how the introduction of GST automatized tax collection and trimmed the IRS vacancies. The shift to e-governance and other associated dynamics will subsequently create a domino effect in the current government exam syllabus and set in motion a renewed assessment and examination pattern. The nature of government jobs will change, and it will demand aspirants to be equipped with new skill sets.
However, it won’t be wise to conclude that government jobs will disappear in future. Being a welfare state and committed to distributive justice, India will always need a substantial number of government officers. Almost 25% of India’s rural population lives below the poverty line and in states like Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, a shocking 45%. Not just that. The pandemic has aggravated the income inequality prevalent in India. While the number of Indian billionaires jumped from 102 to 140 last year doubling their wealth to $596 billion, 75 million more Indians slipped into poverty because of the Covid-19 recession. The state will relentlessly pursue its mission to address these concerns and therefore will require more people. Moreover, India being the seventh-largest country in terms of size demands a mammoth bureaucratic framework. The pandemic has further highlighted how important the state is. So, as the state works towards building capacities and meeting the aspirations of our dynamic demography, the number of government jobs are not going to decline. Processes might be outsourced but regulations will always be the government’s functional sphere.
EdTech is the future
The EdTech sector witnessed a major boom during the pandemic as it created an ecosystem that offers multiple opportunities to learners. With technology, the entire process of preparation becomes easy and readily available to the students – right from offering a whole spectrum of solutions on how to crack examinations, to useful note-taking techniques, to the art of answering. The availability of online study material combined with online mock tests, question banks, and interactive videos are helping candidates practice, gain confidence and improve their results.
India’s robust IT infrastructure, availability of cheaper devices and data packs are adding momentum to this trend.
How will EdTech enhance learning?
UPSC aspirants in India usually shift to the cities like Delhi, Hyderabad, Pune etc to study at the best coaching institutes. However, it is not easy for students from economically underprivileged families to bear the financial burden related to logistics. Such students can now access quality coaching remotely, thanks to technology that has created a world sans borders. By eliminating a plethora of costs and making learning affordable, technology has become an equalizer. It also makes it possible for the aspirants to be with their families while preparing for any competitive exam. And, the psychological support a family provides plays a huge role in achieving success.
Technology has made it possible for students to access the best of teachers in the world. A few years back it would have been unimaginable for a student to be tutored remotely by a Professor at Stanford or Oxford. Today, a wealth of academic discourse is available online on platforms such as YouTube. Another distinct advantage of EdTech is the improved quality of education. Blackboard learning has made way for tech-intensive online classes which are more interactive and academically engaging. Yet another advantage of EdTech is the ‘on-demand’ format that it provides – be it the choice of time; space; pace of learning or the subject.
EdTech is undoubtedly a sunshine industry that will contribute to a stronger and more efficient economy in future. India is a developing country and not everyone has access to technology yet. This is where corporates can step into partner with the state. EdTech holds the power to democratise the education space and therefore India needs to earnestly tap its potential. However, it must be understood that the technology will in no way undermine the role of a teacher. It can at best assist a teacher. Ultimately, what matters is a teacher’s quality, without which technology is futile.