After Centre’s rap, edtech platforms form a self-regulatory body

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Facing the government’s ire over allegedly luring parents in the garb of offering free services and targeting the vulnerable families, leading edtech companies under the aegis of Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) on Wednesday announced the formation of the India EdTech Consortium (IEC).

Aligned with the government’s recent advisory, the IEC will ensure that every learner shall have access to quality and affordable education, which not only improves their academic performance but also makes them future-ready.

The edtech companies have committed to observe and adhere to a common ‘Code of Conduct’ and establish a two-tier grievance redressal mechanism to ensure that the positive impact of the industry reaches every deserving consumer while protecting their interests and promoting their rights, IAMAI said in a statement.

The edtech platforms in the IEC include Byju’s, Careers 360, Class plus, Doubtnut, Great Learning, Harappa, Times Edutech & Events Ltd, Scaler, Simplilearn, Toppr, Unacademy, upGrad, UNext Learning, Vedantu, and WhiteHat Jr.

The formation of this self-regulatory body is an important step towards protecting learners as more and more students, teachers and stakeholders are becoming a part of the online education ecosystem, – Subho Ray, President, IAMAI.

Late last month, the Ministry of Human Resource Development said in a notification that it has come to the notice of the Department of School Education and Literacy that “some ed-tech companies are luring parents in the garb of offering free services and getting the Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) mandate signed or activating the Auto-debit feature, especially targeting the vulnerable families”.

“The parents, students and all stakeholders in school education have to be careful while deciding on opting for online content and coaching being offered by a host of ed-tech companies,” the HRD ministry said.

The HRD ministry also advised parents to avoid the automatic debit option for payment of subscription fee as it may result in a child accessing the paid features without realizing that he/she is no longer accessing the free services.

In December, a report filed by the BBC questioned ed-tech unicorn BYJU’s glorious run in India. The world’s highest-valued ed-tech start-up has more than six million paying users, and an 85 percent renewal rate.

The BBC spoke to many parents, according to whom the ed-tech giant’s promised services never materialized, including its one-on-one tutoring and mentoring.

Divya Gokulnath, co-founder of Byju’s said that they “are completely aligned with the government’s principles on safeguarding consumer interests and welcome the creation of guidelines that help students reach their learning goals in a manner that makes them future ready and conceptually strong”.

Vamsi Krishna, Co-Founder and CEO, Vedantu, added: “While business growth is critical, so is consumer protection since this will allow students and parents to make more informed decisions about the futurea.

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