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Exclusive: Committee for regulating edtech companies will have retired judge, IAS officer as members

India’s growing edtech industry has also agreed to a common set of rules, after coming under fire for alleged malpractices.

You are reading it here first: A retired judge and a bureaucrat, specifically an IAS officer, will make up an external body as the second tier in a grievance redressal mechanism that edtech companies have established for regulating themselves.

Sources said that the edtech platforms will be “controlled” by this Internal Grievance Regulatory Body (IGRB). In the coming days, the committee will sit for a meeting and in that meeting, the exact composition of the body will be decided. Apart from the proposed IGRB, the two-tier grievance redressal mechanism will also comprise the India EdTech Consortium (IEC) whose members include —

  • Byju’s
  • Careers 360
  • Classplus
  • Doubtnut
  • Great Learning
  • Harappa
  • Times Edutech and Events Ltd
  • Scaler
  • Simplilearn
  • Toppr
  • Unacademy
  • upGrad
  • UNext Learning
  • Vedantu
  • WhiteHat Jr

The IEC has been formed under the aegis of the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI)

These developments come a few weeks after Congress MP Karti Chidambaram brought up the malpractices surrounding edtech companies in Parliament and asked for the government to regulate these companies. The education ministry also issued an advisory flagging dangerous practices by edtech companies.

Edtech companies have also come up with Code of Conduct

Apart from the two-tier grievance redressal mechanism, edtech companies have also decided that they will follow a Code of Conduct. Although MediaNama was not able to establish what specific guidelines will be included in the Code of Conduct, sources said that it will address issues such as —

  • Aggressive marketing practices
  • Financial services which are provided as part of edtech services
  • Communication to users and marketing
  • Misleading advertisements

Government advises citizens on how to deal with edtech platforms

In an advisory issued on December 23, the Ministry of Education recommended that citizens do background checks of ed-tech companies before purchasing from them. The ministry also warned users against enabling auto-debit payment mechanisms on such platforms and asked them to check the quality of the educational material, among other suggestions.

Avoid getting coerced into loans, falling for OTP scams:

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  • Users should not sign up for loans of which they are not aware.
  • Children should be made to understand marketing strategies used by ed-tech companies to encourage spending.
  • The automatic debit option for payment should be avoided as it could lead to a child inadvertently accessing paid content. Credit/debit cards should also not be added for subscription on apps, and these cards should have an upper expenditure limit. Purchases on such apps should not be allowed without parental consent.
  • Sharing information about bank account, OTP, card, email, etc. should be avoided since it could be sold or used for scam attacks.
  • A tax invoice statement should be demanded on the purchase of educational devices loaded with contents/app purchase/Pendrive learning.

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Among other subjects, I cover the increasing usage of emerging technologies, especially for surveillance in India

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