09 Apr 2021 00:11 IST

Edtech: The missing piece in India’s education landscape

The knowledge ecosystem is shifting so rapidly that conventional education is not able to keep pace

If you go over the syllabus of ten Indian colleges that provide you with a marketing degree, nowhere will you find a single mention of Hubspot, one of the leading global inbound marketing tools. Nor will you find a mention of Google Analytics or Mailchimp or Facebook Business Manager or Salesforce or UberSuggest. These are all tools that most companies — especially in these times — use every single day.

These companies are on the lookout for experts that know the ins and outs of these tools, and would like to on-board people who know exactly where to begin from day one. But is our education system adept enough to be teaching them what the market is in need of? The answer unfortunately is no. We are still stuck on rote learning pages and pages of theory on service marketing, retail management, and integrated marketing communication. We memorise all these seemingly important things, churn it all out in an exam, and, well, that’s it. We have a marketing degree. And we’re considered experts. But, once we enter the job market, we’re clueless. We don’t know where to begin.

Applying theory

Don’t get me wrong — theory is what gives students the foundation to grow from. But it does not and must not end there. In fact, theory is just the beginning. There is so much more to learn about how it is to be applied in the real world. For instance, how do you handle retail management in a world that is completely digital? It is drastically different from what’s taught in our colleges. Lakhs of students with marketing degrees know exactly how to manage a retail business offline, but none of them know how to replicate that virtually — which is the need of the hour.

Decades ago, technological advancement wasn’t nearly as rapid as it is today. It made sense for a young person to learn a trade or a craft and spend the rest of their life earning a livelihood with the same skill. Fast forward to today, and everything has changed. Technology is improved year after year and keeping up with it no longer means refreshing your knowledge every few decades. Every year counts. In a constantly advancing work environment, it makes no sense to expect people to gather enough knowledge within a few years pre-career to support them for decades after.

Alternative sources

For these reasons, we need edtech. We need alternative sources of learning, because what we’re learning in schools and colleges is just not enough. It’s not enough for the present and it’s definitely not enough for the future.

And most importantly, it is not enough to make us employable. That’s where the main concern lies — the lack of employability. A report by the Centre for Sustainable Employment at Azim Premji University, found that unemployment among the well-educated is thrice the national average. There are about 55 million people in the labour market with at least a graduate degree — of which nine million are estimated to be unemployed. These statistics are concerning.

This is not to say that a college education is futile, but that it is not enough. Indian edtech companies observed this gap and they stepped in. You’ll now find a lot more online courses on digital marketing, accounting, design, web development, programming, machine learning and so on. While not all of them are foolproof, it is a start. Some of these companies then move onto placement and creating freelance opportunities, so as to increase employment opportunities as well. The ecosystem has so much to offer.

These are all steps in the right direction — making education in India a lot more cohesive and applicable. This is where the true potential of edtech lies.