New Delhi: The education ministry has asked parents to be cautious while opting for ed-tech platforms for their children, in an advisory issued Thursday.
It said that the advisory was issued because many ed-tech companies had been found to be asking vulnerable families to sign up for automatic payment options in the garb of providing free service.
Given the hybrid nature of learning because of the Covid-19 pandemic, ed-tech platforms have gained popularity in most Indian households. Whether it’s at the school level or higher education, such platforms are available to help students in all domains — entrance exam preparation, daily school work, skill development etc.
The ministry however said that families opting for such platforms were at the risk of being duped.
“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…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 advisory read.
‘Luring parents in garb of free services’
The ministry said it had come to the notice of the Department of School Education and Literacy that some ed-tech companies were “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 vulnerable families”.
The advisory warned parents of students to not be fooled by the “success stories shared by ed-tech companies without proper checks as they might be a trap to gather more audience”.
It also asked them to not “blindly trust the advertisements” and do their own research before registering with a platform.
“Do a detailed background check of the ed-tech company that you want to subscribe to and verify the quality of the content provided by the ed-tech companies,” the advisory read.
“Make sure that it is in line with the syllabus and your scope of study and is easily comprehensible by your child,” it added.
‘Avoid automatic debit option’
The ministry, in its advisory, also issued detailed instructions on how to avoid financial fraud.
It said that parents should avoid the “automatic debit option for payment of subscription fee”.
“…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,” the ministry said.
It further advised parents to “not install any mobile ed-tech applications without verifying the authenticity and avoid credit/debit cards registration on apps for subscriptions”.
Moreover, parents should not allow purchases on the platform without their consent, it added.
The legal provisions for e-commerce firms have also been shared with the public in the advisory to create awareness about their rights.
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)