It took a $150 million investment by Japanese conglomerate SoftBank to raise the number of unicorns in the Indian edtech space to two. The fundraise by five-year-old Unacademy, which is now valued at $1.45 billion valued at $1.45 billion The Ken Unpacking SoftBank’s unicorn investment in Unacademy Read more , underlines the boom the sector has seen during the ongoing pandemic. At a time when most other Indian businesses faced massive losses, edtech has been the one segment to go the other way. User registrations have jumped; companies have raised over $700 million in venture funding in the first quarter of this financial year—a year-on-year rise of 7X.

Beneath the billion-dollar valuations, the algorithms, and the marketing blitzes, however, lies a core truth—edtechs are only as good as their teachers on them. As these startups chase exponential growth, they’ve been hoovering up teachers across the length and breadth of the country. There were at least 12,000 permanent teacher roles up for grabs at leading edtech companies as of June 2020 as of June 2020 The Economic Times Situations Vacant: 12,000 jobs on offer in edtech Read more , in addition to 90,000 part-time openings.

The closure of tens of thousands of schools and colleges also nudged teachers to explore their digital options, offering an escape from India’s deeply flawed offline education system. For decades now, India’s education system has been plagued with undertrained and overworked teachers, working in exploitative conditions for meagre incomes. Making the switch online should be a no-brainer.

At K12-focused Vedantu, which claims to have more than 500 teachers instructing over 40,000 students, applications for teaching positions are flooding in. According to company co-founder Anand Prakash, Vedantu has been receiving 200-350 resumes a day for teaching positions. WhiteHat Jr, which specialises in teaching children to code, claims to be hiring 220 teachers a day hiring 220 teachers a day Livemint Edtech startup WhiteHat Jr to hire 13,000 teachers by year-end Read more .

The location-agnostic clean slate provided by edtechs has also opened doors for teachers who would otherwise have languished in obscurity. A lot of hidden teachers have come up and are becoming ‘star teachers’, says Prakash. “Earlier, a very experienced guy would earn a huge salary and be confined to four walls. But you cannot curtail talent. Now any person can get to the high salary of experienced teachers, anyone can outshine others,” he tells The Ken.

The teacher talent pool, though, is vast but shallow. Multiple studies over the last five years have revealed revealed Indiaspend $94 Billion On Basic Education Doesn’t Address Teaching Crisis Read more that the quality of teaching and teachers, millions of them untrained or undertrained, has emerged as a key problem.

AUTHOR

Bhumika Khatri

Bhumika covers e-commerce, consumer internet, and everything startup for The Ken in Delhi. In her previous stint at Inc42, she spent two and a half years writing about a breadth of startups and topics. A commerce graduate, Bhumika completed her postgraduate in journalism from the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media, Bengaluru. You can reach her at Bhumika@the-ken.com

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