Budget 2021: 3 pre-budget expectations from the EdTech sector

Publication: India Today
January 31, 2021

In 2020, the education industry went through a drastic transformation. The nationwide lockdown due to the pandemic affected several industries, including the education sector. During this period of uncertainty, educational institutions took a new direction. We progressed from traditional methods of imparting education and introduced new teaching methodologies to cope with the situation. Many companies took this perfect opportunity to innovate and integrate technologies, like the cloud-based and AI-based learning services, permanently into their model of learning. While it was difficult for both students and teachers to adapt quickly from a traditional classroom set-up to digital tools, the impact of e-learning has been significant.

The EdTech industry flourished at an accelerated rate as it broke new territory and entered tier 3 and 4 cities of the country. It took only a few months to gain people’s confidence in online learning, which would have easily taken anywhere between 3 to 5 years, if not for COVID-19. People now understand the significant role of technology in education and other aspects of life. In addition to schools and universities, working professionals and higher education students have also turned to EdTech for vocational education. According to YourStory’s survey, Google searches related to EdTech surged by 60% between April and December 2020.

The pandemic has changed the way education was perceived and has spiked the education industry’s digital transformation. In 2021, the education sector will evolve further in terms of technological innovations and newer teaching methodologies. Schools & colleges will continue facilitating digital aids, such as virtual classes, online assessments powered by analytical tools, etc.

For EdTech companies, 2020 enabled them to create a stable base which will be leveraged in 2021. However, much improvement is still required in meeting the needs of learners and educators, ensuring inclusiveness, and incorporating digital infrastructure to improve the quality of online education. EdTech entrepreneurs, from the Union Budget 2021, are expecting the Government to allocate funds to finance the sector and further drive their growth.

The following points sum up the EdTech industry’s expectations from the Union Budget 2021:

  • Access to robust and improved digital infrastructure: Investment in the EdTech industry will go a long way towards making quality education available to everyone through technology. Cutting-edge technologies will enable quality educators to virtually meet and educate students from any region of the country. Strong digital infrastructure and the high availability of smartphones will make quality education accessible to everyone.
  • Lowered GST: If India wants to become a world leader, we need our workforce to be trained in skills of the future like AI, Machine Learning, cyber security, etc. EdTech companies will play a crucial role in making this happen by providing affordable and accessible education options. The government needs to support this through lower taxes.
  • Foreign Direct Investment (FDI): Implementing a 100 % FDI policy in the inventory-based model will enable EdTech companies to acquire more capital. It will allow them to invest in expanding the Research & Development of cutting-edge technologies, which will, in turn, prove beneficial to customers who are dependent upon education facilities and platforms enabled by emerging technologies.

While various industries are still trying to overcome the impact of the pandemic, the EdTech market will continue to grow in 2021, as more people remain dedicated to online learning. As per NASSCOM, the EdTech market in India is estimated to cross $3.5 billion by 2022. In order to continue functioning and growing, the EdTech industry will need improved internet connectivity and robust information security systems. The Union Budget 2021, with several opportunities and efforts in place, is expected to strengthen the EdTech sector.