The Impact of Covid-19 on The Education Sector

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  • By Dr. Akhil Shahani, Managing Director, The Shahani Group

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has affected industries throughout the world. The education industry too, is an a state of constant flux, as it witnesses the biggest disruption in history. Educators and stakeholders have had to adapt, change and innovate, to cope with the impact of the pandemic which will continue to echo in the industry for years to come.

Current Scenario

The lockdown is being lifted slowly, in parts of the country. Schools and colleges will also reopen soon, albeit with newer norms and restrictions in place. The revised regulations state that social distancing must be maintained, resulting in institutions being allowed to conduct classes with only 1/3 of the students physically present in the classroom. As institutions adjust to this new normal, they are coming up with solutions to ensure that students who are not physically present can also benefit from learning and are not left behind, which is leading to an increased use of online learning tools and platforms.

Educational institutions are finding newer ways to adapt to this mode of learning, and overcome the hurdles that come with it, such as lack of training amongst faculty members, and problems faced by students with regards to lack of connectivity and preparedness. The government is also offering solutions in the form of the E-Vidya program and Swayam platform, that are aimed at making education accessible for all.

Anticipated Growth in Online Education

Given the current scenario, one can hope to see an unprecedented growth in the online learning industry. The edtech market is expected to touch a value of INR 360.3 billion by 2024, owing to the relative ease in learning and the flexibility it provides.

The country will witness a rise in students by almost half, over the next decade. Schools and universities may not be able to match this increase in the number of students at their current capacity. Considering this, a shift to online education may be a preferable solution. Online education has the potential to reach the hinterlands of India, where accessibility to schools might be an issue. With the correct infrastructure, every child can have access to education with or without the presence of a physical classroom.

Influence On Students’ Career Trajectory

The ongoing changes and evolution in the industry will lead to a digital divide, wherein students who lack access to the right infrastructure may fall behind their peers. This will further lead to the alienation of these students, making it difficult for them to be employable and attain jobs. Even those that have access, will have to skill themselves at using these digital education tools.

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Students will also have to acquire new skills to survive in a world that is upturned by technology. A basic to intermediate knowledge of technology will be required in every industry, and a lack thereof will negatively impact a student’s career. Students will have to motivate themselves and constantly upskill, in order to fast-track their career trajectory.

Student Placements 

The pandemic has had an impact on hiring and placements, however companies are still hiring for entry level positions, which can be beneficial for graduates. Openings are also available for junior and mid-level positions, indicating opportunities at these levels. Part-time and remote working opportunities are also expected to increase as companies maintain social distancing norms as operations resume.

A rapid shift to online education may result in a learning model that is not suitable for sustained growth due to the hurdles that accompany it. However, a focused effort by various stakeholders can help overcome these issues, and help build a learning model that is inclusive, accessible and future ready.

Dr. Akhil Shahani

Dr. Akhil Shahani is the Managing Director of The Shahani Group, which runs a range of colleges in areas like business, media, real estate, finance and others. His colleges incorporate global industry oriented education systems that make their graduates truly employable. He is also a Venture Partner in Kaizen Private Equity, which is India’s first private equity fund focused solely on the education sector. In addition, Akhil serves as the Chairman of Global Discovery Schools, which are a franchised chain of 14 innovative schools.

Akhil’s work in the non-profit space is also extensive, he is on the advisory board of Unltd India & IDOBRO, which are two incubators supporting social entrepreneurs. He is the Director of the SAGE Foundation & Trustee of The Shahani Trust, which both have a range of charitable initiatives in education. Akhil sits on the board of 28 iconic colleges in Mumbai.

He has completed his MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management in Chicago & his Doctorate in Education (Ed.D) from the University of Liverpool, where his thesis is in the area of Student Employability.

Akhil is the recipient of many awards for his work in education like the Jamnalal Bajaj Award, Bharat Shiromani Award, PIMR Outstanding Educationist Award, Rex Karamveer Chakra Gold Award, the Bharat Gaurav Award and the Indira Gandhi Priyadarshini Award among others. He is a regular speaker at conferences and has been extensively profiled in the media.

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