Govt to track conduct code enforcement by edtech firms

The Centre has decided to closely track the implementation of a code of conduct adopted by a newly constituted edtech consortium instead of introducing a new policy to regulate the sector, according to sources in the Union Education Ministry.

The development comes after a meeting on Tuesday between ministry officials and the new India Edtech Consortium, in which the latter was represented by five edtech firms and IAMAI.

According to an official, the consortium has officially shared its code of ethics with the ministry, and “it is hoped that this will pave the way for self-regulation”. The new code of ethics was discussed at Tuesday’s meeting, it is learnt.

On January 3, Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan had announced that a policy to regulate the edtech sector was in the works. However, sources said a new policy will not be introduced in haste, as edtech players have shown willingness to put their house in order.

“First, the government issued an advisory; then the minister made the statement. The idea was to send out a message to the companies to recognise the issues and work on them,” a source said. “The self-regulatory guidelines adopted by India Edtech Consortium is a welcome step.”

In its December 23 advisory, the government had listed do’s and don’ts for students and guardians looking to sign up for online courses offered by these companies. The advisory had also cautioned companies against violations.

An official said: “The advisory on edtech reiterates laws set out in e-commerce rules framed under the Consumer Protection Act. With time, edtech players will also have to abide by data protection laws and other laws relating to consumer protection and data privacy.”

The ministry, the source said, “hopes the consortium would be able to adhere to the self-regulatory code of conduct”.

A member of the consortium who attended Tuesday’s meeting said the ministry expressed satisfaction over the move to self-regulate through the code of conduct, which seeks to address irregularities in areas of marketing, communication and financing practices of the companies.

“The advisory was issued following consultation with the Law Ministry,” a source said. “It has also written to the states, asking them to track instances of business malpractices and bring it to the notice of the Centre. Over the years, it had received many complaints, including one on a leading edtech player putting out ads on a student landing high-paying jobs.

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