Govt braces for crackdown against education start-ups


Aamir Khan in Vedantu Ad Photo credit Twitter Vedantu

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By Our Correspondent

New Delhi, July 1: The disruption in the education sector on account of the Covid-19 pandemic brought windfall to the technology driven online learning, but they have consistently been found to be indulging in several malpractices to lure customers.

The Central government on Friday cautioned the education start-ups, Ed-tech, against indulging in such malpractices, including misleading advertisements.

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs in strong words told the representatives on Friday that if the Ed-techs don’t mend their ways the government will be forced to bring regulations for them.

With cash loads from the foreign shores flowing into them, the Ed-tech start-ups have in the past two years have been chasing the parents and the children on phones, stalking in virtual spaces for enrolment at heft fees, while building cases that their sons and daughters lacked in so and so areas needed special attentions.

The film stars and the cricketing legends endorsed such Ed-tech start-ups to gain quick acceptance among the people, flooding the television space with their advertisements.

“The problem of increasing fake reviews is a major point of concern. Notably, a recent report by ASCI revealed that education category is the largest violator of advertising code in 2021-22,” the Ministry of Consumer Affairs said in an official statement.

The Secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs, Rohit Kumar Singh, while holding a meeting with self-regulatory body India Edtech Consortium (IEC), which runs under the aegis of Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), in New Delhi on Friday, said that if self-regulation does not curb the unfair trade practices, then stringent guidelines would require to be formulated for ensuring transparency.

The meeting was attended by representatives of IAMAI, along with IEC member companies including upGrad, BYJU’S, Unacademy, Vedantu, Great Learning, WhiteHat Jr. and Sunstone.

The Secretary pointed out that it has been reported that certain advertisements and practices do not seem to conform to prevalent guidelines and existing regulations.

Therefore, it’s imperative to work together to maintain robust checkpoints that align with the consumers’ interests.

During the meeting, issues pertaining to unfair trade practices and misleading advertisement for the Indian Edtech Sector figured prominently.

The Secretary also advised IEC to continue with their positive efforts to serve the ecosystem and form a joint working group with relevant stakeholders to create the SOPs in this regard.

The modus operandi of such education start-ups has been highly intrusive, as most of the parents would have seen, with the school managements in lieu of the commercial gains selling personal data with such companies, which in turn would work as the fodder for the aggressive marketing outreach by their professionals, who would interview the kids to come with their analysis, which would build a case that the admission for online education is a must.

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