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“Source:- Livemint”
MUMBAI : Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday announced the immediate launch ‘Pradhan Mantri e-VIDYA’ initiative for digital education, which is likely to boost already high interest in the ed-tech startups, given the extended at-home learning requirements that the industry is catering to.

Top 100 universities of the country will be allowed to start online courses by 30 May, Sitharaman said while announcing several measures for the education sector.

“This should create opportunities for the players in the education sector and technology companies to create, distribute and monetize, relevant digital content targeted at all sections of the society leading to a much wider reach and impact. During these tough times, the right use of digital technologies can go a long way in achieving the goals laid out by the government,” said Ashvin Vellody, partner, Deloitte India.

Online education platforms in India have already been raking in huge funding from investors over the past few years. Earlier this year, Ed-tech startup Unacademy raised $110 million from social networking giant Facebook and US private equity firm General Atlantic, at a post-money valuation of $510 million. Byju’s with $5.7 billion valuation is one of the leading Indian unicorns and is still building its funding backbone according to reports.

In challenging business environment like the current pandemic, India saw a number of good-sized deals in this space in Q1CY20. Edtech was a big winner in first quarter with Byju raising $400 million, Unacademy raising $110 million, and Aakash Educational acquiring Meritnation, says a KPMG report.

Sitharaman also announced that Diksha — the CBSE’s learning platform — would be extended to schools in states and Union territories. E-content and QR coded textbooks would be provided for all grades under a one nation – one digital platform initiative. One TV channel for one grade for all classes 1 to 12 – one class one channel for students who do not have access to internet. Radio, community radio and podcasts would be extensively used for the same.

“Initiatives announced by the FM are a welcome move and if given an opportunity, we are always open to collaborate with the government to support students with our commitment to make high-quality education accessible to them and keep them engaged through our adaptive learning techniques,” said Zishaan Hayath, CEO and Co-Founder, Toppr a learning platform for school students.

Sitharaman also said that Swayam Prabha DTH channels were launched to support and reach those who do not have access to the internet. Now 12 more channels will be added. The finance minister announced several new initiatives that will be started by the government in the education sector to promote “technology-driven education with equity post-COVID.”.

Special e-content would be developed for visually and hearing impaired.

Knowing that adoption of e-learning and implementation of tech-driven education is the only way forward, at upGrad, we opened our live learning platform to all schools, colleges, educational institutions, NGO’s and Government Bodies in mid-March itself. The push from the government to online education will further drive everyone to get accustomed to e-learning and with SWAYAM PRABHA DTH, within a short period of time, everyone across the country will seamlessly have access to all educational content,” said Mayank Kumar, co-founder and MD, upGrad.

Currently, over 50 institutions are conducting their classes seamlessly through the upGrad Live platform with over 45,000 students registered. Some of the institutions include Nagpur University, Lovely Professional University, Jamia Hamdard University, Sinhgad Group of Institution, ABES, as well as several colleges from Tripura.