Government alerts people about online learning companies in India

The government has issued an advisory warning people against education technology (ed-tech) companies providing services related to online and remote learning. In a notification issued by the Ministry of Education, it has been said that caution should be taken about the offers of some companies to provide free services. The ministry has also advised parents, students and all concerned in school education to be careful in choosing online content and coaching through these companies.

The ministry said that the Department of School Education and Literacy has come to know that some ed-tech companies are taking electronic funds transfer (EFT) approval from parents or activating auto-debit feature by luring them with free services. In this, families with low knowledge are being targeted in particular. The ministry has asked people to avoid automatic debit option for payment of subscription fees and advised to read the terms and conditions before opting for learning software or device.

Further, the concerned parties have been asked to ask for tax invoice statements on purchase of devices containing apps or content that offer online learning. The ministry has also advised to conduct background checks and verify the quality of the content before subscribing to the services of these companies. “Some ed-tech companies may offer a free premium business model in which many of their services appear free initially but students have to take a paid subscription to continue accessing them,” the ministry said.

The ministry has also advised parents to get their doubts and queries related to payment and content resolved before availing service for their child’s learning from any ed-tech company. Apart from this, students and parents have also been asked to read online reviews about the particular ed-tech company. The ministry says that parental controls and safety features should be activated in the device, app or browser, which can help prevent access to specific content and limit in-app purchases.

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