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Press Dossier   News Category    Education    Full marks for edtech in GCC

KHALEEJ TIMES, Monday, Sep 21, 2020 | Safar 04, 1442

Full marks for edtech in GCC

Emirates: The education sector in the region has always been progressive and tech-savvy, and which has further received a boost during the Covid-19 outbreak with most schools compelled to upgrade their online teaching services.

The sector is all set to book more business as most schools adopt distance learning and this is endorsed by a latest report issued by Moody's Investors Service, which indicates that primary and secondary private education providers will see growth beyond the pandemic in Asia and Emea.

Demand for primary and secondary private education will continue to drive providers' growth over the next three years. The credit quality of private education providers with scale, geographical diversification and good track records will continue to benefit from growth driven by strong societal and demographic factors over the next three years.

"Coronavirus will pose a major challenge in the 2021 academic year. We expect the coronavirus pandemic will temporarily slow education providers' strong revenue growth trajectory in the 2021 academic year, with lower than historically achieved enrollment rates and fees. As the reopening of schools and learning centres varies by city and country, private education providers' geographical diversity will be credit-positive," Moody's said.

"However, the ability to provide a strong online offering is a key competitive advantage for the future. We expect blended learning to be a growing part of the service offering for private primary and secondary education providers, with learning centres moving further to a pure online offering if required. Companies that have already invested in their online platforms and demonstrated their ability to offer online learning will be able to capitalise on this growing trend. Providers will continue to benefit from strong cash flow but face varying challenges depending on operating model and growth strategy," it added.

The growing demand for quality education, particularly in emerging markets where there are large populations of school-age children, is supported by rising disposable incomes in the middle-classes and the imbalances in the state-funded education system where demand for highly rated schools typically outstrips supply.

Atif Mahmood, founder and CEO of Teacherly, said: "For many schools, teachers and students coping with teaching or learning from home, or indeed managing a mix of students learning inside and outside the classroom, the majority have leveraged enterprise solutions rather than edtech-specific platforms. Technology that allows for real-time synchronised collaboration has been prominent."

"Schools have also continued to use the technologies that were already in place, such as learning platforms or learning management systems. In making use of these platforms and the resources held within them, teachers have been better-placed to continue with the lessons being delivered in school before the pandemic."

Mahmood further added: "There is a desire from both teachers and students for the education experience to be more personalised, which is driving huge trend and development opportunities in edtech. Thinking about the working from home, teaching from home or learning from home experience, it all leads back to personalisation."

"Just as in enterprise, where we are seeing apps with low code or no code platforms being sold in that don't need the technical expertise for customising or personalising, we expect a similar trend in education. This type of platform would have once needed IT departments to install software and provide a login, but this is no longer the case, which is opening up more opportunities for teachers."

The total number of students in the GCC education sector is projected to reach 14.5 million in 2022, registering a CAGR of 2.3 per cent and this can be attributed to rising population base of school- and college-age students. During the same time, students at the primary and secondary segments is expected to reach at 10.9 million in 2022, accounting for over three-fourths of total students in the GCC, states Alpen Capital's research report 'GCC Education Industry'.

The number of students at private schools is projected to reach 3.2 million in 2022, registering a CAGR of 4.1 per cent. Enrollments at public schools is projected to increase at a CAGR of 1.3 per cent to 8.8 million by 2022. Similarly, the total number of students in Saudi Arabia is projected to grow at a CAGR of 1.8 per cent to reach 10.3 million by 2022. In the UAE, it is projected to grow at a CAGR of 3.4 per cent to 1.5 million by 2022.

Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO of Coursera, said: "With our latest Global Skills Index report indicating that higher skills proficiency is linked to GDP growth, labour force participation and income equality, there has never been a better time to make online learning available to everyone."

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