Not every business suffered huge losses during the Covid-19. In fact, some businesses that thrived to the degree of making millions and reaching new heights, especially in the start-up scene in Bangladesh.
Take the instance of Instructory. From its launching in 2019 to the nationwide lockdown in March 2020, they had around 1,500 students, informs Rifat M Huq, its CEO. In the last 10 months, they secured 40, 000-course enrollments.
"During our last promotional offer, we sold courses worth over a crore in just 13 days," says Rifat. Instructory now has 82 teachers teaching different skills online, and thousands of students.
Another exciting Edtech company in Bangladesh is Programming Hero. The company provides high-quality programming lessons at an affordable cost. About 3,000 students got admitted to their recent complete web development course, despite only being the third batch. The cost to join the course is Tk 5,500.
These figures suggest that Programming Hero is also an ed-tech company that has a valuation of over crores.
So will the Edtech business model change the traditional training industry permanently?
"It was never possible to get such numbers of students before Covid," says Raaqib Hasan of Yamaha Music Bangladesh. The school is providing piano and guitar lessons online and at the moment, it is the largest online music school in Bangladesh.
"Students from all age groups are joining music classes from home. Even corporate job-holders are getting enrolled. People are learning how to learn on the internet, just like they shop online. Even after the pandemic is over, online courses will not be replaced," he adds,
It is very difficult to run a training centre or coaching centre in Dhaka because of the super high rent for space. Space rent of a coaching centre or training centre ultimately gets paid out of students' pockets.
The cost of space in cities varies from Tk70 to 150 per square foot. Going by the lowest possible calculation, it will cost Tk2,300 per month for an organisation to provide a chair to teach something in Dhaka (3 days per week & 15 students in 1,000 square feet).
Online classes allow trainees and trainers to not only save on space rent, but also other costs on things like transportation, maintenance etc. All these savings ultimately lower the cost of education and that is why Edtech will play a vital role in the future to make academic education and skill development training super affordable.
Edtech companies are grabbing the market for skill development training business. Before Covid, these companies were struggling to compete with traditional training centres. The old brands were dominating the market despite charging high fees.
But now the scenario has started to change. People can't move like before. An understanding of and widespread demand for skill development developed during the pandemic, especially among entry-level job seekers and underskilled-underemployed individuals, who might not be able to compete in a post-pandemic job market.
Such circumstances, meanwhile, have created the perfect business scope for Edtech companies.
Globally Edtech business is a billion-dollar business. The global education technology market size was valued at USD 76.4 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of about 18% from 2020 to 2027.
There is no market research about the market size of Edtech businesses in Bangladesh. But an assumption can be made by comparing with the market size of the coaching business. It was reported on a national daily that the market size of the coaching business is 32,000 crore taka. Education Research Council, an independent organisation, said the coaching business has a market size of around 2,500 crores.
If a major chunk of coaching business starts to operate online, the market size of Edtech will become more than BDT 2,500 crores. Because in this estimation, only the academic coaching market was calculated.
This pandemic caused tremendous losses to coaching centres. It is true that our education system is heavily dependent upon external coaching services for better performance in the examination. Students didn't go to their institutions because of the global pandemic, which created an opportunity for the Edtech startups. Many rising startups are trying to provide online coaching services in the academic niches.
Because of the Edtech business model, students are learning valuable premium lessons at the cheapest cost possible and companies are earning huge revenue. In an offline coaching model, neither was such a large amount of enrolments possible nor would the students be able to learn valuable lessons at such low costs.
To meet goal 4 of the sustainable development goals, Bangladesh has to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. To do that, the government can embrace the model of Edtech and create an online school, college, and university.
The government can bring the best teachers from all around the country to teach up to the high school level, and global scholars for university-level education. The concept of a government authorised online university is nothing new. University of the People is the first non-profit, American-accredited, tuition-free online university. To create ease in the process of access to higher study, our government can seriously embrace the operation model of this American university.
Educational institutions, training centres, skill development centres should realise providing education through technology is the future. Edtech is making education more accessible, affordable, and raising the standard of educational contents. Edtech startups are big enterprises of the future.