During the pandemic, a lot of teachers moved back to their hometowns and some now have issues with leaving their children or in-laws at home so they prefer remote working. As they are now trained in taking online classes, they now have the option to join Ed-tech start-ups if schools insist on their return
Students might enthusiastically be heading back to school for in-person classes but at least some of their teachers are choosing to continue with virtual classes, ditching the chalk and blackboard for Ed-tech start-ups. A combination of the desire to continue working remotely, the training in digital skills they developed while taking classes virtually during the pandemic and the prospect of higher remuneration that well-funded Ed-tech start-ups are able to offer is driving this trend, according to industry stakeholders.
During the pandemic, a lot of teachers moved back to their hometowns and some now have issues with leaving their children or in-laws at home so they prefer remote working. As they are now trained in taking online classes, they now have the option to join Ed-tech start-ups if schools insist on their return, says the principal of an international school in Hyderabad, who requested not to be named. While the number of teachers choosing to switch might still be only a small proportion of the total number of teachers, it nonetheless poses a challenge for private schools, particularly those catering to the higher income bracket, as in-person classes reopen.
While the number of teachers choosing to switch to Ed-tech start-ups might still be only a small proportion of the total number of teachers, it nonetheless poses a challenge for private schools, particularly those catering to the higher income bracket, as in-person classes reopen. Exact data is hard to come by since it requires all schools to share the details accurately. But this is admittedly a growing concern for private schools, especially when many have invested in developing teachers digital pedagogical skills, says Maya Menon, founder-director with Bengaluru-based The Teacher Foundation, which works with schools across the country. Teachers have even revealed that they can get hired by Ed-tech companies since they’ve honed these skills in the last year-and-a-half.
Ed-tech start-up Vedantu, which was recently valued at over $1 billion, says it has seen a definite spike in applications from teachers with a background in traditional teaching during the pandemic. “What we’ve also noticed in our hiring and on-boarding of late is that they (teachers) have become a lot more comfortable with online tools. Earlier, we would have to put in a lot more effort in training because they were used to the offline world”, says Nikhil Pawar, head of curriculum-early learning, Vedantu. The Ed-tech start-up has tripled the number of teachers on board to over 2,500 since the pandemic began, to meet growing demand.
Manan Khurma, founder of Alphabet-backed Cuemath, says the Ed-tech start-up, which offers live online math classes, has seen a huge rise in applications for teaching jobs, both from experienced teachers and others. “For individuals who lost their jobs in the pandemic or faced salary cuts, Cuemath became their primary source of income. For others, who teach for fewer hours, it’s a supplementary source”, says Khurma.
Well-funded start-ups are also able to offer better compensation, in general. “Private schools on average pay Rs 30,000-50,000 a month and there would be a lot of additional duties which are automated on platforms like ours. By spending 75 per cent of the time a private school teacher does, a teacher on our platform can make double the money”, says Khurma. The star teachers on their platform, who are a combination of educators and entertainers and also social media-savvy, can earn upwards of Rs 50 lakh, at times going up to Rs 1 crore depending on the value they bring, says Vedantu’s Pawar.
For many teachers, their satisfaction comes from teaching someone in front of them and they will stick with the traditional model but there are teachers who see joining Ed-tech platforms as the job of the future and are applying, says Rajshekhar Ratrey, senior vice-president, product management, at Toppr, which was acquired by Ed-tech behemoth Byju’s earlier this year. “Ed-tech is attracting the best teaching talent in the country”, says Ratrey. With the pandemic and lockdowns increasing the acceptance of virtual classes, the demand for teacher talent, say start-ups, is only likely to continue.
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