Ed-tech churn brings the teacher back to the classroom

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Since losing her job at ed-tech platform Lido Learning in January, she’s reverted to a long commute, longer working hours and less income – but it’s a better option for now only the uncertainty of salary delays and layoffs.

“For me, online teaching has been a good experience. Technology has allowed me great flexibility. I learned many ways to make math interesting. Now I work 6-7 hours at school and waste a lot of time commuting. Also, after coming home, it is difficult to manage household chores and spend time with family,” she said. Ranjita, who teaches grades 6 to 8, has two children. The youngest is six years old.

More than a year ago, when the edtech industry was booming, Ranjita, like many other teachers, took the plunge and started teaching virtually. The pay was good and the working hours relatively shorter.

But a shift in the ed-tech space is changing that.

Amid a slowing economy, rising inflation, rising oil prices and interest rates, and a geopolitical crisis, investors have choked off the supply of easy money to startups. Startups have laid off at least 8,000 employees since January to cut costs. Recruiters expect another 5,000 to be laid off in the next two quarters. Many well-funded educational technology companies such as Unacademy, Vedantu, and WhiteHat Jr have laid people off. Several of them are teachers who had left their conventional mode of teaching for better income and flexibility in the context of the pandemic.

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At the Lido, for example, Ranjita made 300-400 an hour and taught regular batches – it would take about 10 hours of teaching to earn what she earns today as a regular teacher, although she had to deal with “delays in the receipt of wages”. With the recent crisis at Lido, he was asked to leave, although he was promised work in the future.

With schools reopening and many students eager for physical lessons, the offline option is back on the table for many teachers. This is also reflected in the decisions of educational technology companies like Unacademy and Byju to hedge their bets and move into offline education to meet the growing demand for physical classrooms and counseling centers.

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For example, in the many coaching centers in Kota, students have started to return and hostels are also open. “We have recruited 80 teachers in the last 15 days, and about 50% of them are from online companies. They are ready to take a 15-20% pay cut but fear being associated with online-only education platforms,” said Pramod Maheshwari, director of Career Point. The Kota-based coaching institute has 30 centers and offers online and offline offerings. Classes.

For some, like Kailly Krishna, 30, a chemistry teacher in Kota, the satisfaction of physics lessons is far greater than that of teaching blank boxes on a screen. Krishna worked in a hybrid education setup and moved to New Delhi in 2021. “I got a good pay rise and wanted to explore more options around education. Classes were mostly online,” Krishna said. He learned to explain molecular chemistry to his students via diagrams and videos. But in March, as physics classes resumed, the senior faculty member decided to return to Kota. , students could turn off their videos, and we had no way of knowing if they understood the concepts. Now, although hybrid options are available everywhere, I will continue physical classes. Financially too, it makes more sense to teach from my hometown,” he said.

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Another Kota-based faculty member who did not want to be named said he saw teachers joining on 50% pay cuts.

However, it is not financially viable for many parents to pay a few hundred thousand dollars for hosting and coaching fees, so the demand for online courses remains. Some coaching centers therefore broadcast live lectures so that doubts can be dispelled in real time.

In Kota, the coaching centers charge 40,000 to 60,000 per year for online coaching courses for the preparation of common entrance exams, compared to 1.2-1.5 lakh for physical classes.

Meanwhile, Ranjita is resigned to the fact that the ed-tech boon may not return any time soon, but she continues to occasionally teach on a smaller ed-tech platform to earn a living. little extra money.

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