With the government laying emphasis on imparting education in the mother tongue of students as part of the new education policy, edtech platforms are looking at broadbasing their revenue streams by offering courses in various regional languages like Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali and Malayalam.
While currently, Hinglish — a mix of English and Hindi — YouTube channels are most popular, edtech startups like PhysicsWallah (PW) and Vedantu said that gradually the pace of adoption of regional languages is growing.
For instance, PW’s Bengali channel has seen its subscription base grow from 0 to 160,000 over the past eight months, while Vedantu’s Tamil channel has grown from scratch to around 70,000 subscribers in about 10 months.
Several edtech players said that states like Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Gujarat and Maharashtra remain largely untapped in terms of offering courses in regional languages and are therefore fertile ground for growth. Comparatively, Hindi course materials have higher adoption rates.
“As our company grew, we realised that there is much bigger play on the vernacular languages front and we have seen great traction since we launched. A like-for-like comparison shows that our Tamil channel grew twice faster than our English one,” Anand Prakash, co-founder, Vedantu said. “We’ve also seen students learning in English and then revising topics in a language of their choice to grasp concepts better. We are constantly working to provide more languages on the platform as students demand these.”
According to Rohit Gupta, chief academic officer, PW, “Teaching in English is straight forward, and during coaching we don’t want to be repeating what is already there in the books. Students want us to go the extra mile. Gujarati, Odiya and Marathi are a few other languages that are gaining prominence.”
While the demand for education in regional languages is the highest among the joint entrance examination (JEE) and the national eligibility-cum-entrance (NEET) takers, Vedantu and PW plan on expanding their reach to teach even school students in their mother tongue as early as the next academic year. Currently, both PW and Vedantu offer content in regional languages to students for free but have plans to monetise it with the growing demand.
Edtech firm Bhanzu plans to soon offer mathematics courses in Tamil and Hindi to school students. “We’ll begin courses in Telugu and Hindi in about four months from now and will be monetising from day one since the demand is high,” said Neelakantha Bhanu, founder and CEO, Bhanzu. Bhanzu, PW and Vedantu said that their business would grow in tier-2 and beyond cities only if they diversify into regional languages.
However, challenges remain in the form of getting talented teachers and willing parents – the latter prefer English for their wards as employability is seen higher here.
“Recruiting talent won’t be easy. The same teacher who teaches in Tamil may not be able to command the same power in Bengali and so we will need to recruit more staffers,” Prakash from Vedantu said.