Benefits of China’s education technology sector amid COVID-19

Editor’s note: Haider Rifaat is a writer for the South China Morning Post, Arabian Moda magazine, Good Times magazine and OK! Pakistan. The article reflects the author’s opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

Education-technology is anything but a new phenomenon. Ed-tech firms have been operating across the world for decades, but we have realized their due importance during a COVID-19 pandemic. Almost all schools and universities have opted for online education during the novel coronavirus outbreak, and the ed-tech business has since blossomed, particularly in China.

These companies are responsible for merging innovative technological tools like web-based software platforms and artificial intelligence with education to foster advanced learning among students. This strategy helps learners of all ages perform better in their academics.

China remains second to none in the ed-tech business. Chinese education-technology companies have outdone themselves during the global crisis. Two of the leading Beijing-based ed-tech firms, Zuoyebang and Yuanfudao, earned profits worth 750 million and 1 billion U.S. dollars, respectively this year. Research has also found that online education will surge past 58 billion dollars in 2020 against 38 billion amassed last year.

The global economy continues to suffer at an exponential rate, and the aftermath of the pandemic will only worsen the overall economic performance. Recovering from this loss will be a huge challenge for almost every country. However, the ed-tech market appears to have accelerated its growth in China in the last few months, which is an indication that the country’s education sector is in safe hands.

Students at home can now access e-learning platforms and virtual classes to extract the best knowledge without interruptions. Parents and their children can collaborate during online sessions and achieve daily targets with ease. Creative learning enables students to think outside the box and posit solutions to challenging problems. This results in better learning outcomes.

Communication is made easier with zero infrastructure costs involved. More importantly, curriculum tailored to the needs of each student can help them learn at their own pace. College and university students can also earn their degrees through distance learning without feeling left out.

Hu Xiaoqian, a teacher at Tsinghua University, uses an online educational system to teach a baseball class in Beijing, China, February 17, 2020. /Xinhua

Hu Xiaoqian, a teacher at Tsinghua University, uses an online educational system to teach a baseball class in Beijing, China, February 17, 2020. /Xinhua

Advanced technology and internet usage have allowed ed-tech firms to thrive in China. Without these tools, education technology would not be the successful phenomenon it is today. E-learning is a sustainable alternative to education in the long-term if we take COVID-19 out of the equation. Students can access these platforms effortlessly, barring a few segments of the population that are deprived of online facilities and other important channels.

Distance learning requires no transportation or physical effort. Subject-based knowledge is readily available to students, and learning is immersive, enjoyable and collaborative. Technology-based education also makes administrative tasks easier to handle. Enrollment, progress reports and monitoring of other miscellaneous duties are made more efficient in an online system. No paperwork is involved. Everything is digitally accessible.

Countries with emerging technologies should take a page from China and implement similar success models to make a difference in their education sector. It is high time the ed-tech market takes charge of the education sector. Allowing schools and universities to register with ed-tech companies can benefit both parties and help achieve a synergized effect.

Education technology firms should take on an expansive approach that engages all students, including those who lack basic facilities to learn from home. Education is an investment in our children’s future, and turning a blind eye to it serves no purpose to quality education.

In an ever-evolving world of technology, registering more schools with ed-tech startups not only benefits the economy but fast-tracks the growth of education. In the age of COVID-19, China is doing what it does best: getting things in order and incentivizing parents and their children to get good education at home.

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