The cost effectiveness of online education can be the answer to India’s mounting student debt and unemployment, states the latest whitepaper by India’s leading ed-tech platform SchoolGuru. In the paper titled “Empowering five million new students – India’s future through online education”, SchoolGuru highlights the need for continuation of virtual modes of learning.
The current pandemic has hastened the process of technology adoption for the education sector. Online education is now the new norm for students and working professionals opening possibilities that were considered unlikely previously. In addition to the needs of the traditional students, Online education can help close the skill gaps for the Indian workforce, 93% of which is part of the unorganised sector and lacks the required employable skills.
The biggest challenge in traditional education, other than the necessity of being physically present and theory based learning, is the cost effectiveness of the degree. The rate of the increase of the cost of education is 2.5 times more than the rate of inflation. The fees constitute half of total education expenditure; with out of pocket expenses such as travel, private classes and stationery, the average spend on traditional learning goes up exponentially. With lesser cost of delivery and larger class sizes, the potential for bringing down the program fee is considerably higher.
Sharing his views, Mr Shantanu Rooj, Founder& CEO, Schoolguru Eduserve, states, “Having a lower cost for education does not correlate to a lower quality teaching and learning process. Rather it gives the learner opportunity, choice and flexibility. With a fragmented education market in India, online learning is a pathway to accessibility and equal opportunity for individuals in rural and Tier 2, 3 cities. This ripple effect can be the answer to urban migration, unemployment and the economy as a whole”.
Online education is not just the solution to earn a degree but also gives the opportunity to up-skill and reskill – students can pursue their online courses while continuing to work in their organisations. Degree apprenticeship programs are co- designed with employers, ensuring that apprentices develop industry-relevant skills. Apprentices, therefore, are highly employable, having benefited from studying a course tailored to industry needs, and gaining workplace experience as a part of their education.
The end goal of education has always been employability. Although the potential of online education is rarely debated, the lack of clear growth policies and the fractured digital infrastructure of the country are still a challenge. Therefore, with changing times, if quality online education can address the needs of the larger population in terms of employability, then it is worth the investment of time, energy and infrastructure for the growth of the country.
The case for change, according to the analysis
1. The rate of the rising cost of education is 2.5 times more than the rate of inflation, thus increasing dropout rates. Online education is more cost effective in the long run.
2. India has a fragmented education market, with the majority of the institutions concentrated in and around Tier 1 cities and a few in Tier 2 cities. Online education provides better accessibility, thus reducing migration.
3. The need for change is link online education with apprenticeships to improve employability.
4. Harnessing technology to provide education to more than 263 million kids globally thus improving the learning ecosystem
5. Today’s professionals require learning options that do not hamper their work-lives. Online education provides that advantage. They can stay updated on the changing market conditions, and develop the required skills to be a part of those markets. The reskilling component for adult learners is expected to grow at 22.23% by 2022.
6. Need of the hour is manoeuvre a positive mind-set towards online education
7. Strengthen the digital infrastructure for India to reach 900 million internet users by 2023. The system is still struggling with its problems – accessibility and over standardisation, and lack of specialisation. There is a serious need for deregulation and privatisation of the education sector.
8. Online education certificates are still not accepted as core education qualification by industries and this can be discouraging for learners. Things are changing fast though.
9. To sustain and flourish in the new world of work, driven by automation and digitalisation, there is a need for a new learning paradigm that focuses on strengthening the current institutional structure and creates a flexible system for students and professionals.
10. Online education is beneficial for companies, as it raises employee engagement by 18%, increases productivity among workers and can boost company revenues by over 40%