What started with the Digital education initiative by the GOI’s National Education Policy, was accelerated with the first wave of the pandemic, during the lockdown in 2020. Today, with the largest population of youth under the age of 25, and as the second-largest user of smartphones in the world, Edtech has been rapidly growing, and being accepted across age groups. And although edtech had been here in India for quite some time now, its role pre-COVID had always been limited to assisted- learning and the use of tech-enabled visual aids that were largely used in conventional classrooms. Now, tech innovations and digitization have enabled not just continuing ‘learning from home’ but also created an ‘impactful engagement’ and enhanced learning possibilities, for students, with benefits like focussed attention span, parent involvement, and ease of operation, and tracking of student progress, among other features.
According to a report by RedSeer and Omidyar Network India, published in February 2021, the e-learning market for class 1-12 is projected to increase 6.3 times, to reach a USD 1.7 billion marks, in the coming year, while the post-K-12 market is set to grow 3.7 times to touch $1.8 billion.In spite of these numbers, digitization of education in rural India remains a challenge, due to various factors like lack of digital literacy, language barrier, lack of trained teachers who are comfortable with tech-based teaching, and access to quality digital learning tools. While a lot of edtech start-ups and companies are trying their best to understand and solve these challenges, it is a slow and uphill task. However, with the help of effective communication outreach, the effort can be eased, at least in some areas.
Anindita Gupta mentions 4 ways why EduTech companies can leverage PR so as to gain access to rural Indian markets:
Educating the rural stakeholders: With each passing day, technology is becoming better but also equally complex, making it harder than ever for the digitally illiterate to make sense of it. In terms of the rural population, with the limitation to English as a language, these complex tech innovations become a burden. When it comes to e-learning, it is imperative that brands educate stakeholders on the simple use-based operations, and the long-term benefits, impact, and significance of the technology. This is even more important in the case of education technology since parents, who are at times intimidated by tech themselves, often vary about technology access to children. PR tools allow for a long-term, informative approach towards EduTech, offering content-driven solutions that go beyond language barriers, to assist brands in creating awareness about the product and services, all of which can go a long way in creating positive brand valuation in the eyes of the stakeholders.
Promoting customized solutions: Educating the stakeholders through content-driven communication outreach helps build a positive receptivity and acceptance to new innovation in particular and technology as a whole. While this is the first step, creating and promoting solutions that specifically address key challenges like the language barrier or the cost of acquiring a digital product like tabs or smartphones, is the next step. A PR outreach with the help of local influencers can help build strong awareness and affinity towards the new product range and thus help garner customer interest and long-term loyalty.
Enhance reach and visibility: For any business to succeed it is important to first create differentiated visibility followed by strong reach and brand recall. In the case of a rural audience across the country, PR can help build customized communication outreach programs that suit the brand’s ethos while engage and influence positive behavior across various tier 2, tier 3, and rural markets. Through compelling narratives that can impact the trust and buying decisions of parents and academicians as secondary consumers, is vital for a segment like EduTech, given its potential to shape and impact young minds. PR helps build trust, visibility and recall through interesting and research-based narratives that can generate trust and reliability among parents and teachers.
In line with the above-mentioned pointers, it is reasonable to say that PR is one of the most indispensable tools of communication for the Edutechsector and its growth across rural markets. Even as new innovations continue to disrupt the market more and more brands are turning towards innovative storytelling concepts to drive home the significance and the potential of EduTech, helping create and share positive brand communications that reflect their key philosophy, corporate growth, goals, and value offerings.
Authored article by Anindita Gupta, Co-founder, Scenic Communications.