Government Issues Advisory Against Ed-Tech Companies: Here Are The Details

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Government Issues Advisory Against Ed-Tech Companies: Here Are The Details

The Centre’s advisory mentioned that the offer of free services has to be carefully evaluated.

New Delhi: The government has issued an advisory to parents regarding the use of caution against education technology (ed-tech) companies. “Given the pervasive impact of technology in education, many ed-tech companies have started offering courses, tutorials, coaching for competitive exams, etc. in an online mode. In this background, the parents, students and all stakeholders in school education have to be careful while deciding on opting for online content and coaching being offered by a host of Ed-tech companies,” the Ministry of Human Resource Development stated in a notification on Thursday.

The advisory mentioned that the offer of free services — promised by some companies — has to be carefully evaluated.

“It has come to the notice of the Department of School Education and Literacy that some ed-tech companies are luring parents in the garb of offering free services and getting the Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) mandate signed or activating the auto-debit feature, especially targeting the vulnerable families,” it added.

Here are the complete details of the Centre’s advisory for parents:

* Avoid automatic debit option for payment of subscription fee as some ed-tech companies may offer the free-premium business model where a lot of their services might seem to be free at first glance but to gain continuous learning access, students have to opt for a paid subscription.

* Do read the terms and conditions (T&C) before acknowledging the acceptance of learning software/device as your IP address and/or personal data may be tracked.

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* Ask for a tax invoice for the purchase of educational devices after a detailed background check of the ed-tech company that you want to subscribe to.

* Make sure that the content provided is in line with the syllabus and your scope of study and is easily comprehensible by your child.

* Do clarify all your doubts or questions regarding the payment and content before investing any amount for your child’s learning in an ed-tech company.

* Activate parental controls and safety features as it helps restrict access to certain content and limit spending on app purchases.

* Record the evidence of spam calls or forced signup for any education packages without complete consent for filing a grievance.

* Go through the child safety guidelines mentioned in the PRAGYATA guidelines by the Ministry of Education before using any ed-tech platform.

* Don’t blindly trust advertisements and sign up for loans. Also, avoid installing mobile ed-tech applications without verifying their authenticity.

* Avoid credit or debit cards registration and place an upper limit on expenditure per transaction.

* Don’t add your data online as it may be sold or used for later scam attacks.

* Avoid sharing any personal videos and photos and use caution against turning on the video feature or getting on video calls on an unverified platform. 

* Don’t subscribe to unverified courses or trust the “Success stories” shared without proper check.

* Avoid in-app purchases. OTP-based (one-time-password) payment methods could be used.

* Don’t share your bank account details or open attachments or pop-up screens.

The Ministry said, “Ed-tech companies have seen rapid growth thereby increasing the number of students or teachers subscribing to their learning platform. The increasing number also means that platforms must be careful about the claims made regarding the services offered.”

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It also shared advertisement guidelines for ed-tech companies. “The advertisement shall not state or lead the public to believe that an institution or course or program is official, recognized, authorized, accredited, approved, registered, affiliated, endorsed or has a legally defined situation unless the advertiser can substantiate with evidence,” it further mentioned.

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