India, over the past 6-7 years, has witnessed a mushrooming of EdTech start-ups, offering online courses, video tutorials, soft-skills training and even on-demand live lectures
Shyam, a lanky 21-year-old from Ajmer, raised eyebrows when he stepped inside the campus of a prestigious engineering institute in Jaipur. Born to a poor family, he defied many odds to secure a good rank in the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE). In college too, his academic performance was nothing short of extraordinary. At the end of 4 years, however, he failed to land a corporate job. The reason Shyam didn't clear his job interviews was not because he lacked the technical skills for the role, but rather due to his poor spoken English communication skills.
There are thousands of young adults like Shyam who remain unemployed because of their poor communication skills. Along with digital literacy and creative thinking skills, proficiency in English is a key factor that determines an individual's employability quotient. It's been observed that though many students know to read & write basic English, they are not well-acquainted with speaking the language. This puts them at a disadvantage over job applicants who speak English fluently.
Given the fact that the majority of India's population reside in rural areas with little access to quality teachers and learning resources, nearly 80% of students grow up lacking key employability skills. State-run educational institutes outside urban areas often lack the resources to provide employment training or additional support to their students. With the penetration of technology and evolving job trends across India, lack of English communication skills can have dire social and economic consequences.
EdTech companies lend a helping hand to students in tier-II and tier-II cities
In the past, students from a tier 2 or tier 3 city had no option but to visit a physical coaching centre to strengthen their knowledge of English. While this proved to be effective in a few cases, attending spoken English classes was not financially feasible for everyone. Centres are also located in urban or semi-urban areas, so students often must travel large distances to reach their nearest centre. There are practically no centres in rural areas, where even the option to learn English doesn't exist.
India, over the past 6-7 years, has witnessed a mushrooming of EdTech start-ups, offering online courses, video tutorials, soft-skills training and even on-demand live lectures. These companies aim to bridge the growing skills gap in the country. The advent of internet-based learning tools has enabled millions of underserved students to enhance not just their cognitive and analytical capabilities, but also their communication skills.
The contribution of EdTech companies towards improving the English speaking skills of students can't be overstated. Students from tier 2 and tier 3 cities, in particular, find app-based learning platforms more convenient and cost-effective over traditional coaching centres. Besides convenience, accessibility is perhaps the chief factor driving the popularity of EdTech platforms. Digital learning has allowed for round-the-clock accessibility to learning materials, tutorials and qualified teachers. Anyone who has a smartphone and an internet connection can develop new skills & improve upon existing ones without stepping outside their homes. Additionally, the personalized approach used by learning apps allows students to identify their strengths & weaknesses, while keeping tabs on their progress.
The writer is founder and CEO, Enguru