Prabin Shrestha, 41, runs an import and export company in Kathmandu. As the world is embracing digital marketing in the wake of the Covid pandemic, Shrestha also wanted to make a shift.
But, the shift came with a cost. As he hired freelancers, they demanded handsome payments.
It forced Shrestha to seek an alternative. Before making any move, he decided to learn it on his own first. “Now, I have a clear understanding of digital marketing; I can also do digital marketing of my company by myself,” says Shrestha.
Helping Shrestha learn this skill in a short span was Sikumna, an edtech company operational in Kathmandu since 2020. These days there are many others like Shrestha who have taken various courses from edtech companies.
Gone are the days when one needed to physically travel to the classroom to attend a class. Now, thanks to these edtech companies, there is no need for students to be bound within a physical structure or note down everything that was taught in the classroom. Several education-technology companies are facilitating the process.
Taking advantage of the Covid obstruction, many edtech companies have been established in Nepal. While edtech interventions in mainstream education are also growing, in Nepal, these companies have begun to offer non-academic courses on their own, and they are getting more popular day by day. It seems these companies will define the future of the education industry in Nepal.
The emergence of edtech companies in Nepal
Similar to Shreshta, 23-year-old Sudikshya Kadariya of Kathmandu has also completed a course in Photoshop from an edtech company. Photoshop was completely new to her, but now due to the virtual course through an edtech platform, she has become well versed in it.
“The course and teaching methodology both were worthy,” says Kadariya. Kadariya, the founder of Kadariya Beauty Station, an online retail beauty store, is also confident about using Photoshop skills in her business herself.
Edtech companies gained popularity in the world after the lockdown of 2020 imposed to minimise the coronavirus spread. The case of Nepal is also the same.
During the lockdown, academic institutions then ran classes, examinations and even ECA virtually. Thousands of students took their classes through virtual platforms. Still, there are a number of academic institutions that are continuing virtual classes.
With the growing use of technology in education, the number of edtech companies dedicated to providing short-term skill-based courses–which are not included in the academic syllabi of colleges and universities–too has increased.
They define their products as skill-based content. For example, some of the courses edtech companies provide are related to graphic designing, share market, music, and digital marketing.
Sikumna, an online instruction and learning platform based in Kathmandu, is one of those edtech companies. The company, which started its operation two years back, now has over 2,500 active students enrolled in 15 courses. To date, in total, more than 9,000 students have enrolled in Sikumna.
The students taking courses in Sikumna are from diverse backgrounds. Their background ranges from students to entrepreneurs and job holders in different sectors.
“There are many people in our country who have strong academic degrees but lack skills, due to which they could not get quality jobs. So, to enhance the skills for getting proper jobs, a number of people are connected to edtech companies,” says Saugat Basnet, the founder of Sikumna.
Problems and promises
According to Basnet, a lack of concentration among the students is the main challenge for edtech companies. He says almost 60 per cent of students regularly drop out of each course.
“Due to the lack of discipline and concentration power, they could not complete the course designed for a certain period,” says Basnet.
However, Ashwin Neupane, the creative head at Digital Gurkha, a digital marketing and edtech company, has an idea to overcome it. He says the features of gamification and quizzes in the courses can help in maintaining concentration among the students.
“We have already tried these things in our courses and it went remarkably productive,” says Neupane.
Digital Gurkha started edtech services a year back and has already garnered more than 10,000 students to date. Neupane believes the curious nature among the youth about digital courses and learning platforms is one of the prominent reasons behind the exponential growth of edtech companies.
He further says, most of the students prefer courses related to jobs that have higher demands in the market. For instance, the courses of NEPSE technical analysis, digital marketing and content writing are more popular than others.
Basnet and Neupane both believe that edtech companies have a secured future in Nepal and all around the world. A study states that investment in digital education will reach 337 billion euros by 2025, and they believe it will be reflected in Nepal also.