The Union ministry of education (MoE) has warned parents and students, asking them to be careful while opting for online coaching services, after a string of dubious ed-tech companies were reported for fraud.
The department of school education and literacy, managed by the MoE, has issued an advisory asking students and parents to carefully scrutinise the “free services” promised by the mushrooming ed-tech companies in the wake of the pandemic.
A circular issued by the department stated, “Avoid automatic debit option for payment of subscription fee. Some ed-tech companies may offer the Free-Premium business model – where a lot of their services might seem to be free at first glance but to gain continuous learning access, students have to opt for a paid subscription. Activation of auto-debit may result in a child accessing the paid features without realizing that he/she is no longer accessing the free services offered by the ed-tech company.”
The department has also advised students to do a background check on the ed-tech companies offering such courses, as well as to keep track of any spam calls or forced signups for any education packages without complete consent in order to file a complaint.
“Look for student/parent reviews online on the ed-tech company for any registered grievance and marketing gimmicks. Also, provide your suggestions and reviews which may be beneficial for others,” the circular further added.
Highlighting Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020, the ministry pointed out, “No e-commerce entity shall adopt any unfair trade (marketing) practice, whether in the course of business on its platform or otherwise. It shall not falsely represent itself as a subscriber and post reviews about its products or misrepresent the quality or the features of any educational content and its learning tool.”
The MoE stressed on parental supervision, saying, “Activate parental controls and safety features on the device or in the app or browser as it helps restrict access to certain content and limit spending on app purchases.”
It also asked the parents to make their children aware about the features and marketing strategies used by education apps. The ministry also recommended users to look for student and parent reviews about the particular ed-tech company before enrolling into one.
“Record the evidence of spam calls/ forced signup for any education packages without complete consent for filing a grievance,” the advisory added.
Students/ Parents may report any untoward incidents on the following links: