An IIM-Kolkata alumnus, Ashish founded uFony, the parent company for School Dairy, in Pune. uFony, meant to rhyme with “euphony” – meaning a pleasing sound, created its first product, the School Diary App, in 2012, as a specifically designed technology solution for the education sector, aimed to simplify and streamline the parent-teacher communication.
Ed-Tech or education technology has seen rapid growth and adoption across the Indian education spectrum. From higher learning and specialised online vocational courses, robotics and multimedia modes of interactive teaching to assisted learning and special app-based tutorials, etc., the past decade has seen multiple innovations. And the pandemic has further enhanced the spread and accelerated wider adoption of technology for education, across the spectrum! Extended lockdowns and fear of crowded classrooms have pushed parents and schools to look for online education. At the same time, there has also been a surge in people taking online vocational or hobby classes online.
As per a report by RedSeer and Omidyar Network India report, the EdTech market in India has grown tremendously, almost doubling in size, from 45 million in 2019 to 90 million users in 2020. Further, supported by 2019 NEP that encouraged technology-empowered learning to explore beyond ‘chalk and talk’ methods, the K-12 EdTech market is registered to grow to 6 folds, from being a USD 265 MN market size in 2019 to be an estimated USD 1.7 BN by 2022. Additionally, the report also predicts that while strong growth in the K-12 segment is anticipated, the segment for grades 1 – 5 is set to witness the fastest growth. Factors like increased broadband penetration, the rise in regional language internet and the high consumption of smartphones, are also key factors driving this growth.
While the above highlights the growth potential of the segment in terms of market value, the sector as a whole is set to also see a massive surge in disruptive innovations that will eventually contribute to the increased market value. In terms of the current and emerging roles, these functions can be largely bifurcated into:
- Competence Building: From leveraging modern tools like robotics and coding, etc., several schools are embarking on core competence building exercises to drive building core competencies in children. Attributes like critical thinking, emotional intelligence, creative learning and applying theoretical knowledge into practice by building practical applications, are all examples of successful EdTech application. Through robotics and free coding based toys, children and young adults are not only able to expand their boundaries of thinking and practically applying them to create solutions, but are also increasingly aware of modern infrastructure, energy and environment challenges, and are already well equipped to at least, in ideas, generate solutions.
- Assisted Digital Learning: Online skill development and coaching for specific subjects can often not be completed only through classroom training. The traditional tuitions or coaching classes are thus now being replaced with assisted learning tools, by both schools as well as private tutors and parents seeking to enhance their child’s performance in a particular subject. These include third-party apps that provide in-depth and interactive online training sessions to the use of Multimedia tools, practical experimentation, projects and extra-curricular group activities to encourage understanding based learning, versus superficial, theoretical learning. In the times of a lockdown like these, several schools have also turned to assisted learning tools like ‘virtual classrooms’ for online learning for children. While generic apps for video conferencing etc., were initially used, several EdTech companies have stepped up in the past few months to create customised video solutions to meet the needs of teachers that are taking of the pandemic.
- Enhanced Parent Engagement: The multifaceted learning and the vast spectrum of activities designed for children to succeed in the 21st century, have, however, added to the woes of parents and teachers who have become aware of the need to address the overall wellbeing of students. To counter the increasing competitive pressure, especially in the K-12 segment, an increasing number of schools are proactively turning to third-party EdTech service facilitators to drive ease of parent-teacher communications, transparency, student safety, and keeping track of mental and emotional wellness of children, through a strong virtual support community. Although emerging, this segment of EdTech service providers, are also helping drive efficiency of K-12 educators, enabling them to effortlessly manage, supervise and tend to the learning needs of individual students. For parents, these provide a reliable and transparent platform to remain abreast of the child’s learning progress and overall wellbeing.
In the light of the recently announced NEP 2020, the reforms and the initiatives announced by the government further point towards its ambitious focus on enhanced learning and holistic development of children. Powered by initiatives like digital India, skill India and the goal to become a successful international economy, EdTech is certainly going to play a crucial role in shaping the future citizens, scientists, engineers, doctors, artists and entrepreneurs of the 21st Century India.
More About Ashish Chaturvedi
Before uFony, Ashish spent 9 years in a corporate role, working across technology, business development, and planning across sectors, including the IT services and CPG industry. He was a part of the Global Program Management team, where he managed a 50+ MUSD transformational program comprising of 400+ resources distributed across Europe, US, India and China for P&G. Having worked with some of the leading Indian and International brands, including Infosys, AT&T, P&G and Veizon (USA), Ashish gained immense insights in working with multicultural teams and acquiring hands-on expertise, across business domains. All these learnings he carefully imbibed so as to eventually implement some of the world’s best practices, in his own business venture. His goal had always been to start his own venture one day and enable the creation of at least 10,000 jobs – a milestone he is very close to achieving!
School Diary has been a success since its launch in 2012. What started with one school in Pune is now a family of 201K+ app users, across 709+ schools, pre-schools and daycare centres, spread in 9+ countries. The App, designed to create a one-stop communication platform, accessible on iOS, Android, Windows smartphones and Windows 10 tablet, desktops and over browsers, has been effective in bridging the parent-teacher information divide. With the customised, innovative and simple solution, the App has created an easy and engaging interface that could help both parents and teachers to be on the same page when it came to a child’s education.
In addition to School Diary®, Ashish is also the founder of Daycarez® & Zoment™.