Pune-based Kinny Gupta had never thought her passion for teaching would be a lucrative deal one day. After working in a corporate company for nearly 11 years, she took a sabbatical for six years. This year, the 38-year-old became an online tutor, earning over Rs 70,000 a month, while teaching coding for seven hours from home.
As the demand for online tutorials escalate, the education technology (ed-tech) companies are on a hiring spree. Companies like White Hat Jr, Toppr Byju’s are aggressively recruiting to fill the demand-supply gap. According to job-search site Indeed, jobseeker’s interest in remote teaching has gone up by 212.3 per cent while postings for remote teacher jobs have risen by 92.8 per cent during March-August 2020.
While the ed-tech sector has seen tremendous growth over the past five years, its importance has been especially realised during the coronavirus lockdown. In fact, experts say online teachers working in the sector are earning better than many offline teachers.
The average salary, according to Naukri.com, of an online tutor ranges between Rs 2 and Rs 5 lakh per annum, and Rs 6 lakh-Rs 11 lakh for a professor. However, if the educators are quick to learn new skills like coding and have updated their course knowledge, their pay can rise further.
According to founder and CEO, WhiteHat Jr, Karan Bajaj, teachers working with them are paid anywhere between Rs 50,000 and Rs 1.5 lakh a month. “Online teachers are earning more than an engineering fresher these days. We have given them an opportunity to educate students at their preferred timings – it can be a student in the US, India or Australia — and from the comfort of their homes,” he said.
Job websites have also reported how work from home has increased two-fold. Over 1,000 new jobs have been added to the naukri.com platform in the education/teaching sector in July.
However, not just regular teachers, these ed-tech platforms are building an army of educators in different fields — from dentists, B-school graduates to engineers.
Chief content officer, BYJU’S, Vinay MR said: “Being a school teacher is not a mandatory criterion for us. We have educators from across backgrounds who have excellent command over their respective subjects. We hand-pick our teachers, observing how passionate they are for the subject and if they will be able to deliver the content well in an engaging manner. Besides, we assess how well they are able to integrate tech aids into the way they teach.
WhiteHat Jr claims to onboard 221 teachers every day. It includes 70 per cent of those who are from non-coding backgrounds, dentists, women who wish to return after a sabbatical to fresh college graduates.
However, unlike in schools and colleges, where the faculty needs to clear eligibility tests, like CTET in central schools or UGC-NET for colleges, these professionals are required to be abreast with technology and the subject concerned. Many do not have teaching experiences or cleared any eligibility tests.
Sanjay Kumar prepares aspirants for defence entrance exams like CDS, SSB and NDA at the Unacademy platform. He was part of the military academy for one-and-a-half years, then switched to IB (Security), and then went on to do journalism. Before realising that his true calling was teaching, he worked in the private sector as well. He believes entrance tests like civil services and defence are dynamic in nature and right guidance comes from those who have experienced it.
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“It is not necessary that if someone manages to qualify eligibility tests or has certain certificates they can be a good teacher. If you have a good work experience, you can teach others with better practical knowledge,” said 35-year-old Kumar whose four students have been selected in the armed forces this year.
Education consultant and former principal of Laxman Public School (Delhi) Dr Usha Ram explains that schools look for holistic development of a child while the ed-tech sector focuses on personalised learning.
“Nearly three decades ago, all such coaching institutes started flourishing where they hired subject experts who might have never taught in a school but hold a medical or an engineering degree. These tutors were needed only for the entrance exam preparation. These days online tutorials are about skilling or upgrading the academic aspect. School teaching is, however, more profound where you need to focus on the student’s overall development and nurturing. Therefore, in schools, teachers are trained to multitask, groom and motivate students,” said Ram.
Meanwhile, in these hard times when lay-offs are a reality, such mediums are helping many experts, especially women, to get their career back on track.
Kinny Gupta believes such jobs are a blessing and help in striking a better balance between professional and personal lives. “When I worked in a private school briefly, I realised the teaching profession is no less demanding than a corporate job.
Unfortunately, the remuneration is too low as against the corporate salary that I was drawing a couple of years ago. Through online education, I am earning well, giving time to my family and to myself,” she said, underlining that the recruitment process in ed-tech platforms are stringent and “highly professional”.
For hiring teachers, the ed-tech companies have a series of tests as part of the application process. CEO and founder, Toppr.com, Zishaan Hayath said experts from various fields come together to create pedagogical frameworks and lectures in accordance with the school curriculum. “There is a training and onboarding programme that runs for a couple of weeks for the newly hired teachers,” he explained.
About many platforms demanding coding knowledge, Hayath said: “It is compulsory only for the teachers who teach coding to kids. For others, it is not a mandatory criterion on our platform.”
A few platforms like WhiteHat Jr only recruit women teachers. “We are dealing with children (age six-10) and we believe women are more dependable. Through virtual interviews, we analyse their knowledge, behaviour and how compassionate they are towards students. We use artificial intelligence to assess their creativity and adaptability,” said Bajaj.
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