Illustration: Sameer Pawar
In 2020, India’s population will be the youngest in the world with an average age of 29. With 270 million children already enrolled in school, India also has the largest school system in the world. This indicates that soon, we as a nation are going to have one of the youngest workforces and will be poised to reap the benefits of this demographic dividend.
However, research by the World Economic Forum shows that 65 percent of the children entering primary school will find themselves in jobs that do not exist today. To truly harvest the benefits of a young workforce in the future, it is important that we invest in human capital to create a productive workforce. Leveraging our existing school systems and using active, accessible and effective learning for all can play an instrumental role in transforming the next generation into a high-quality workforce.
Here the good news is that emerging markets most often provide the perfect backdrop for dramatic disruption in any space. The world has already seen this with digital payments—the massive success of payments through digital apps in Asia has become something of a modern folklore.
When it comes to education, this kind of disruption can only come from a country like ours, given that the value for education is deep-rooted in us. Every home, every family understands the transformational potential that education has and a large chunk of an Indian family’s caregiving needs are centred around providing their children with a good education. This makes an emerging market like India the perfect setting to see disruptors in education. Disruptors who can explore, innovate, thrive and grow in an environment where education remains the backbone for building the economy and the nation as a whole.
How Edtech became personalised in the 2010s
In the last few years, the integration of technology in education has ushered in a change by making education accessible to students irrespective of their geographical locations and proficiency levels. However, to truly equip our children and youth to face the ambiguous world of tomorrow, the future of education needs a revolution.
To do so, we need to reimagine the role of educators and students. We need to create learning experiences for our youth that will prepare them for the unseen jobs of tomorrow.
The ideal future of learning would be where students become active learners. They will be enabled by learning experiences backed with artificial intelligence, machine learning, automation and data that make the process personalised and impactful. The edtech space is ripe for innovation to transform the future. Disruption in this sector can truly create a remarkable impact as it is a highly demanding sector that makes a difference in everyone’s lives.
As we enter the next decade, here are some of the guiding principles that will help players in the industry stay relevant.
A SENSE OF PURPOSE
Having a sense of purpose for a business is fundamental because it inspires employees, attracts customers and leads towards sustainable growth. It drives the team to be passionate, motivated and work towards achieving the shared vision. It pushes them to ideate and innovate continuously and return to it day after day. Also, it’s often easy to start a mission-driven company, but what is important is that it stays that way. At Byju’s, while we have moved from classrooms and stadiums to virtual classes and now to personalised, blended, experiential learning, the one constant ‘sense of purpose’ that drove us was to create unique learning experiences for students across age groups.
The success and growth of a business are augmented by the values that the core team believes in and practises. Teams that sport the founder mentality display insurgent ownership. They are obsessed with the vision and where the company is headed towards. The continuity at the leadership level helps the brand reap the benefits of compounding relationships. This makes your core relationships a strength you can capitalise on.
'In jobs, expertise from experience is no longer critical'
BEING AN INFINITE PLAYER
In business and politics, there is no winning because the game never ends. The key to staying in the game is to think big, innovate and disrupt. Repeat. The way you approach business, the way you create products, and the way you address the need in the market should be accomplished with the mindset of an infinite player if you want to stay in the game.
Another important aspect of sustaining the business is giving it existential flexibility. This gives you the power to disrupt, alter or diversify the business model if it means taking ‘the purpose’ to the next level. This flexibility is what helps you make the best of circumstances, learn from competition and shift agendas. Businesses that evolve stay relevant in the game.
Overall, even if you have the perfect mixture of all the things above, it helps to remember that uncertainty is an integral part of business. Taking risks, focusing on the bigger picture and not being side-tracked by short-term failures will help you stay with ‘the purpose’. Only then can we sustainably address the needs of a changing market, be it in education, or any other segment.
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(This story appears in the 17 January, 2020 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)