The government publishes a notice to citizens against Ed-Tech companies

The government has issued an advisory to citizens regarding the use of caution against electronic…

The government has issued an advisory to citizens regarding the use of caution against electronic technology companies that allow online and distance learning. The offer of free services promised by some companies should be carefully evaluated, the education ministry said in the notification released Thursday. He also urged parents, students and all school education stakeholders to exercise caution when deciding to opt for online content and coaching through electronics technology companies nationwide. .

The Department of Education said it had been informed by the Department of School Education and Literacy that some electronic technology companies were urging parents to offer free services and to have the electronic funds transfer mandate signed ( TEF) or activate the automatic debit function, particularly targeting vulnerable families.

He urged citizens to avoid the automatic debit option for payment of subscription fees and advised them to read the terms and conditions before acknowledging any acceptance of any software or learning device.

“Some electronics technology companies may offer the Free-Premium business model where much of their services may appear free at first glance, but to gain access to lifelong learning, students must opt ​​for a paid subscription,” he said. said the Ministry of Education.

Stakeholders are advised to request tax invoice statements when purchasing educational devices loaded with content or apps designed to provide e-learning. The ministry also recommended a detailed background check of electronic technology companies and checking the quality of their content before subscribing to their service.

Additionally, the notice warned parents to clarify doubts and questions regarding payments and content before registering for their child’s learning at an electronics technology company.

“Activate parental controls and security features on the device or in the app or browser, as this helps to restrict access to certain content and limit spending on app purchases,” noted the ministry.

Parents are also advised to help their child understand the features and marketing strategies of educational apps used to encourage spending. In addition, the ministry recommended that users search online for student and parent reviews of the relevant electronics technology company before registering. He also advised them to provide their suggestions and comments that could help others.

“Record evidence of spam calls / forced enrollment in all educational packages without full consent to file a grievance,” the notice reads.

The Ministry of Education has also advised citizens to follow the child safety guidelines mentioned in its PRAGYATA guidelines before using an ed-tech platform.

In addition to the recommendations, the notice included a list of practices that it recommended that citizens not consider when registering for an online learning service. These are the following:

  1. Don’t blindly trust the advertisements of ed-tech companies.
  2. Do not take out any loan that you are not aware of.
  3. Do not install any ed-tech mobile application without verifying its authenticity.
  4. Avoid registering credit / debit cards on subscription apps. Place an upper limit on spending per transaction.
  5. Avoid adding your data like emails, phone numbers, card details, addresses etc. online, as the data may be sold or used for subsequent scams.
  6. Do not share any personal videos or photos. Be careful not to turn on the video function or make video calls on an unverified platform. Keeping your child’s safety at the highest priority.
  7. Don’t subscribe to unverified courses because of their false promises.
  8. Do not trust “Success stories” shared by electronics technology companies without proper verification, as they could be a trap to attract more audiences.
  9. Do not allow purchases without parental permission. To avoid in-app purchases; OTP based payment methods can be adopted according to RBI guidelines.
  10. Do not share your bank details and OTP number with marketing staff. Beware of cyber fraud.
  11. Don’t click on links or open attachments or pop-ups from sources you don’t know.

The opinion also noted that citizens who are consumers of ed-tech services are protected by legal provisions intended for e-commerce companies.

“It is quite obvious that electronic technology companies that can be considered as e-commerce entities must comply with the rules to avoid any untoward liability in the future and must put in place a dedicated mechanism to verify compliance with the law. ”Said the Ministry of Education.

He also mentioned that educational institutions, including electronic technology companies and programs, should adhere to the general rules of the Advertising Standards Council of India Self-Regulatory Code (ASCI) and the guidelines below:

  1. Advertising must not declare or cause the public to believe that an institution or course or program is official, recognized, authorized, accredited, approved, registered, affiliated, approved or has a legally defined status, unless the advertiser cannot be substantiated by evidence.
  2. (a) An advertisement offering a diploma or certificate which by law must be recognized or approved by an authority must have the name of that authority specified for that particular field. (b) In the event that the institution or program advertised is not recognized or approved by a compulsory authority but is affiliated with another institution, which is approved or recognized by a compulsory authority, the full name and location of said affiliated institution must also be indicated in the advertisement. (c) The name of the affiliated institution, as indicated in point 2 (b), must not be less than 50% of the font size of that of the institution or program advertised in the visual media such as print, internet, hoarding, flyer, flyer, etc. including television. In audio media such as radio or television, the name of the affiliated institution (if applicable) should be indicated.
  3. The advertisement must not indicate or lead the public to believe that enrollment in the establishment or in the program or in the preparation course or in the supervision courses will provide the student with temporary or permanent employment, admissions to institutions , job promotions, salary increase, etc., unless the advertiser can justify such an allegation. In addition, the advertisement must include a disclaimer stating that “track record is not a guarantee of future employment prospects”. The font size of the disclaimer should not be smaller than the size of the claim made in advertisements.
  4. (a) The advertisement must not make any claim concerning the extent of the lot of success placed, the highest or average remuneration of the placed students, the enrollment of the students, the admissions of students in renowned educational establishments , the grades and ranking of passed out students, the testimonial of the best students, the competitive ranking of the institution or its program, the size and qualification of its faculty, affiliation with a foreign institution, the infrastructure of institute, etc., unless they belong to the last completed academic year and are substantiated by evidence. (b) Advertising indicating the competitive rank of the institution or its program must also provide the full name and date of the publication or medium that published the ranking. (c) The Institution’s visual infrastructure shown in the advertisement must be actual and exist at the time of publication of the advertisement. (d) Testimonial for toppers in an advertisement must come from students who have participated in the testimonial program, exams or only about the advertising institute. (e) An announcement indicating the number of outgoing students placed for employment must also indicate the total number of outgoing students from the placed class.

The ministry also recommended free e-learning content, textbooks and digital labs offered as part of government initiatives that citizens can explore before purchasing any content online.

Interestingly, the government’s notice comes months after reports suggest lucrative behavior by electronics tech companies, including Byju, in which parents and students are said to be paying for online content they couldn’t even afford. not afford. The issue was reported last year by IIT alumnus Pradeep Poonia, although he was the subject of a lawsuit by WhiteHat Jr. for allegedly exposing his disturbing behavior.

The COVID-19 pandemic has helped promote online learning, as traditional institutions, including schools and colleges, have not been physically active for some time. This growth eventually spread to electronics technology companies in India and around the world.


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