The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the traditional education model, compelling the masses to shift to digital learning.
Owing to this, most private schools situated in big cities, and even small towns, quickly shifted to online teaching methods as prolonged school shutdowns had a devastating impact on the education of children. However, joining online classes is not a feasible option for students coming from a poor or rural background as the majority of them lack access to the internet.
An EdTech social enterprise named ConveGenius (CG) is trying to bridge this gap by using technology and educating students coming from financially weak backgrounds.
Started in Singapore in 2014 by Jairaj Bhattacharya and Shashank Pandey, it's head office is currently located in Noida.
The EdTech enterprise has also collaborated with several state governments, including Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Telangana, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, to reach more students and widen the horizon of its impact. The platform even makes use of nine vernacular languages to cater to the needs of students coming from various backgrounds. It also follows 20-plus curriculums taught across different schools around the country.
While most of the EdTech companies are focusing on bringing digital learning to upper-class students, ConveGenius aims at enabling learning for the masses. Its device-agnostic learning platform is available on the web, mobile application and chatbots configure on Whatsapp and Telegram.
Shashank Pandey, co-founder of ConveGenius tells The Logical Indian, "Our EdTech platform is designed in a way that more than one student can access learning from a single device so every household with even one single smartphone or a school with a few computers or tablets can access our adaptive learning programs. By now, more than one crore students are using our platform.
Most students in the government and affordable private schools are already lagging behind in the completion of their syllabus due to the pandemic. However, our model is designed in a way to support remedial learning where students can learn at their own pace. It backtracks on a student's learning progression, sometimes reaching back to foundational concepts and finds learning gaps as well. It helps students of varying abilities achieve mastery."
Teachers can use real-time data insights and suggestive content to teach at the right level. At the same time, what differentiates it from other platforms is that it can be accessed both online and offline, making it available even to remote areas of the country.
In order to give individualised attention, the platform has also integrated an AI-based WhatsApp chatbot to offer personalised assessments, doubt-solving services and content recommendations for home learning.
ConveGenius has been growing steadily since its inception. It became profitable in FY2019-20 with gross annual revenue of ₹18.4 crores. It has received funding worth ₹20 crores from investors, including Michael Susan Dell Foundation and Benori Ventures, and also others.
However, it faced multiple challenges in scaling up its operations till here. Since ConveGenius targeted students in small cities and rural areas, it was difficult to convince their parents as most of them were not educated enough to realise the value of personalised and adaptive learning. Many parents could not afford to pay for such learning platforms. In order to tackle such obstacles, ConveGenius has partnered with the local channel through which they could deploy their services even in rural or remote regions.
In a conversation with The Logical Indian regarding digital learning, Shashank Pandey shares, "When the pandemic began, we came in touch with many teachers who were trying to cope up with online teaching. Our WhatsApp-based platform enabled the majority of students to connect easily with their teachers. Most smartphone users know how to use Whatsapp for their day-to-day messaging. Even those students who don't know to operate computers/laptops or lack access to it could also continue with their learning.
Through our platform, teachers could even track their students' performance and understand which areas are they were lacking or required improvement. Moving from offline to online was surely tough, but we need to find scalable solutions to adapt to a post-pandemic world."
At present, ConveGenius is expanding its presence in the southern and eastern regions of India. ConveGenius plans to close the gap in educational achievement by reaching 10 crore more students in the upcoming five years.
ConveGenius has started a nationwide campaign named EdTech for Naya Bharat (ETNB) Mission, through which we plan to bring together like-minded people who wish to work for the betterment of education in India and share resources and knowledge to implement that plan. ETNB Mission is rigorously working towards building a better tomorrow for the bottom ten crore children in India, which we know is not possible without the dedicated efforts of all stakeholders in the education sector.
"Online education has taken a heavy leap since last year. It has compelled schools, teachers, students and parents to inculcate online education in their pedagogy. But as the schools are reopening and we are moving towards a post-COVID era, it's time for a blended learning approach where the best of both worlds will be used. Overall development through classroom teaching, personalised learning experiences is an important aspect of the new blended model. Now that the teachers have to cover learning gaps caused by the pandemic, technology can be of much use and support. Social media will play a crucial role in democratizing education in India. Because of the reach it already has, choosing it for education will only benefit society," concludes Shashank Pandey while talking with The Logical Indian.