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Massive disruption - Aaakash

The sky is not the limit for ed-tech growth

Blended learning became the new normal

Aakash Educational Services will add over 100 centres marking its presence in Tier 3 and Tier 4 cities, writes AAKASH CHAUDHRY in this year-ender special.

The education sector has witnessed massive disruption since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The year 2021 has been a watershed moment for e-learning and the EdTech industry. Blended learning became the new normal with the reopening of educational institutions. The hallmark of the year was the EdTech sector attracting the biggest fundraise with mergers and acquisitions worth more than $3.35 billion, more than three times the consolidated amounts raised in 2020 and 2019.

Marking the completion of one year of the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020, the Government introduced major initiatives promoting local languages, banking schemes, and amplification of new-age courses like Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, machine learning to help the youth in remote geographies bridge the learning gap with the mainstream. With the rapid adoption of technologies, NEP will pave way for the successful execution of strategies required to skill the workforce in accordance with global standards.

The sector also witnessed a transformation in terms of curriculum for CBSE, ICSE and state board levels.  Changes in the grading system and question patterns brought the required breather for students. The new syllabus not only lessened the learning burden of candidates but facilitated them to score better in their exams.

As classrooms swiftly moved online to maintain continuity of teaching and learning, the adoption of technology paved the way for a world of new opportunities making quality education accessible to many. In April 2021, regarded as one of the largest acquisitions in the sector in the world, BYJU'S acquired the tutorial chain of Aakash Educational Services Ltd (AESL) at approximately $950 million. Leveraging BYJU'S tech expertise, AESL created engaging and personalized learning programs, bringing the best of hybrid learning for medical and engineering aspirants.

As a part of its offline expansion strategy, AESL will be adding over 100 centres marking its presence in Tier 3 and Tier 4 cities. As AESL is transforming into a hybrid EdTech firm, our focus is to go closer to customers, leverage technology and physical centres and hire talent utilizing the specializations of BYJU'S. Riding on the transformative power of technology, Aakash Institute introduced various salient features for improving student's performance such as:

·Creating history in the test preparation sector, 3 Aakash Institute students scored 720/720 and became National Toppers by securing AIR 01, 02, 03 in NEET UG 2021. Eight Aakashians also featured in the Top 10. This is the second year in a row that Aakash Institute students have achieved a perfect score in the NEET UG.

·Registering one of the best results, around 63,564 students from Aakash Institute have qualified for the prestigious NEET UG Examination 2021.

·14 students from Aakash Institute secured Ranks in Top 200 in the JEE Advanced 2021 results speaking volumes about their hard work and the high-quality training provided by the institute

·AESL launched one-of-its-kind Satellite Study Centres to provide real-time classes through satellite technology to students in distant areas

·To help medical students excel, Aakash EduTV, an education television channel available on Airtel DTH, was started. We launched NEET Nurture+, a two-year regular course for Hindi medium students to overcome the language barrier. The channel also offers the NEET ACHIEVER course, giving NEET repeaters the edge to ace the exam. We also launched a series called Max Courses on Aakash EduTV for students of class 11th and 12th who will no longer have to wait for physical coaching classes to resume and can start their preparations for the upcoming NEET & JEE examinations.

·AESL launched a new smart application ‘Aakash App’ providing a holistic understanding and application of critical concepts for students studying in Class 11th and 12th honing their preparation for JEE and NEET examinations. The high-quality content aided aspirants to ace not only JEE/NEET exams but also helped them prepare for competitive exams like KVPY and Olympiads.

·We also launched a new comprehensive application ‘JEE Challenger App’ to provide a holistic preparatory experience to JEE aspirants who are looking for practice using previous years’ questions. The students can use its powerful analytics and reports to fine-tune their preparation and prepare for JEE Main and JEE Advanced with focused precision.

 Employee specific

·Aakash Institute strengthened vaccination drive across its nation-wide network starting May 2021 to protect its employees and their family members against COVID-19

·Aakash also partnered with Practo, an app for video consultations with doctors, and YourDost, an online platform for counselling and support for emotional problems for its employees.

·Known for its innovation and use of cutting-edge technology, AESL introduced MIRA – an Artificial Intelligence enabled one-stop solution for its employees for query resolution – through an innovative knowledge management tool. (*The author is Managing Director, Aakash Educational Services Ltd.)

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