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Six issues ASCI should consider while framing advertising guidelines for edtech

While edtech start-ups are working with the ASCI to come up with a code for advertising, here are some important issues to keep in mind.

EdTech start-ups part of the recently formed India EdTech Consortium (IEC) such as Byju's, Unacademy, and upGrad are working with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) to come up with a code for advertising and marketing, Economic Times reported on Monday. "We do keep reviewing our guidelines from time to time to keep pace with emerging consumer concerns. For all new guidelines, we undertake extensive stakeholder consultations with the government, industry bodies, or members, sector experts as well as representatives of consumer organisations." – Manisha Kapoor, secretary general of ASCI, told ET Here are some of the key issues that we think ASCI should address in its guidelines. Issues that should be addressed 1. Clarity on the financial component: In an advisory issued by the government in December 2021, the Ministry of Education pointed out 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." Before that, MP Karti Chidambaram raised this issue in the parliament saying that EdTech companies are "engaging in predatory marketing practices where they prey upon the aspirational poorer people who want to give their children a better education [...] acting like loan sharks."  Hundreds of complaints have been filed against Byju’s by customers who were misled by its sales team into taking loans to afford their charges, according to a BBC report from December 2021. "Deliberate miscommunication about the loan and trial period triggered…

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