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Year 2021: Education & Covid-19

by Vijay Garg
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(A tumultuous year)
The year 2021 has been a tumultuous year vacillating between hope, fear, grief, optimism, and hopefully transitioning into a much desired normal 2022. Disruption which began with COVID in 2020 continued though world leant to live with it. It has consolidated some of the trends which got accelerated with COVID while creating newer ways of coping with the uncertainty and continuing education delivery in an uncertain environment of disruptions.
 There has been mass adoption of technology by education institutions to continue their teaching and learning despite closures during the second wave. Teachers, parents and students built upon their learnings of 2020 in using technology, and have innovated to not only make up for lack of physical classes but also find new applications to enhance learning and engagement. At the same time, digital divide remained quite evident with significant percentage of schools and students with no access to devices being further marginalized. Latest ASER report shows that smartphone access is at 67 per cent of students. 
Thankfully, the second half saw COVID wave receding, leading to gradual opening up of institutes with students returning back to classes. Though this has varied across regions and institutes with education being delivered across a spectrum from fully remote to fully physical, mostly it has been in a hybrid form. Even the study abroad market has also seen a jump over last year with students and parents more comfortable with going ahead with plans.
Technology has played a stellar role in continuation of teaching and learning. Maximum impact of this is evident in at home learning, remote classes, higher education,skill upgradation, extra-curricular i.e., coding, hobbies space. Convenience and ease of learning online has brought in a large set of new learners who can pursue these courses within their constraints of timing, location and finances.This has expanded scope and addressable market for various online education offers. 
Edtech as a sector has really gained traction during this year with more than $4 billion funding so far and formation of new unicorns like Upgrad and Emeritus. There is also a trend towards consolidation with mergers and acquisitions leading to emergence of few larger players trying to dominate large segments like K12,competition,HE,skilling and study abroad.

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