The Digital Education Agenda Needs a Major Push in this Year's Union Budget

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The much awaited Union Budget is around the corner, to be announced on February 01, 2017. What it has in store for the economy, we are yet to see. However, going by the disruptive policy reforms that the Government has been introducing consistently, the latest being the demonetization drive, we can surely expect to see major shifts and changes and a few watershed moments disbursed in between.

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Technology as it does to everything it touches, have brought about paradigm shifts in the way education and learning is imparted and consumed. Starting with plain vanilla distance learning and e-learning solutions and then growing into learning facilitated by social media and interactive virtual classrooms, data analytics, technology has come a long way in transforming the education ecosystem. It's a revolution of sorts.

One of the key visions of the Modi led Government's "Digital India' initiative is to made "education for all" a reality. The goal is to make quality education accessible to all, driven by digitization and the dream is not too farfetched from the reality. With the Government's push to build digital highways, broadband penetration is slated to go up significantly. Mobile and internet penetration are nonetheless burgeoning by leaps and bounds. With such positive forces at play, we are confident that year 2017 would be a pretty exciting year for the edu-tech sector in general.

Education industry is now embracing technology

A lot of real and disruptive changes are taking place in the edu-tech ecosystem since the last 5 years, thanks to technological advancements in terms of cloud, Data Centers & Virtualization etc. The traditionally conservative education industry in India is now embracing technology really fast.Interactive, immersive, engaging and participative modules of learning like concepts of smart boards, e-learning and other technology platforms has already made its presence felt in the academic sector.As everything evolves, technology also had its turn and continuous research has revealed even better forms of education and learning – Virtual reality, Integrated Digital Interactive Classroom, market spaces, wearable technologies, machine learning, robotics, data analytics, augmented reality and artificial intelligence based learning solutions, amongst others.

There is a huge demand of technology in the education industry and still there are many areas in the country which are beyond the access of advancements in education sector. Edu-tech startups are emerging to bridge this divide and enhance the learning experience for students. Several such startups are building business models to promote an inclusive society where quality education is accessible at the remotest of places, driven by innovative technologies and the internet. Many of these entrepreneurial ventures are joining hands with NGOs to reach out to students in remote areas who have no access to the internet. Challenges remain galore and that is exactly where the opportunities lie.

The education and academic sector in India is expecting a lot from this year'sUnion Budget. If India has to achieve GDP growth of 8 per cent, it really needs a skilled, job-ready, trained and educated workforce to make it possible. For this, the Government needs to invest in innovative tech based education systems and introduce favorable policy reforms.

The Digital education agenda needs a major push in this year's union budget. The MHRD (Ministry of Human Resource Development) has already announced its set of MOOCs (massive open online courses). The initiative has a humongous potential going forward.

The Government of India has been undertaking adequate measures to introduce digital literacy in a big way. The Indian education market size is presently at $20 billion and it is predicted to grow upto $40 billion by year 2018-19. Theextended tax break period can help businesses with sufficient time to grow and settle in the huge and competitive market. Digital transactions should be favored over physical forms in all the government processes in order to ensure transparency and speedy practice. In this regard, the transaction charges should also be minimized.

With reference to the growth in the general online learning market, there has been a significant rise in the Online Test-prep market as well. Currently the test preparation market size stands at over 20 million students, with an Annual Growth Rate of 30-35%. At an average ticket size of INR 1,000 the Market Value currently stands at around INR 2,000 crores. The government has already welcomed the process of online examination, and we expect more of such reformations in the years to come.