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Education Company Ads Are Under Scrutiny

ASCI study "EdNext" highlights edtech advertising responsibility

11 January 2023


Jahaan Singh

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  • ASCI's report suggests that spending large amounts of money on the marks-linked narrative in EdTech is not beneficial for society.

  • Experts and parent groups view this pattern as problematic due to its long-term effects, despite advertising promises.

  • Edtech advertising practices and attempts to establish a responsible approach were spotlighted

    in a study released by ASCI, entitled "EdNext".

According to a new report by The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), 49 percent of parents

base their edtech platform choices on advertising. The report also states that, like traditional education

ads, edtech advertisements heavily focus on marks and ranks, with mathematics and science being the

main subjects depicted in ads.

Based on a study by ASCI's EdNext, 73 percent of parents surveyed expressed concerns about high

pressure of studies depicted in ads and the lack of academic role models in them. They also highlighted

the stereotypes of gender, physical appearances, and mother's roles that they noticed in these ads over

the years.

Aggressive advertising and marketing tactics by edtech brands have caused a decline in brand trust and

concerns among parents in India. The education sector, which is one of the biggest violators of ASCI's

advertising codes, has been repeatedly flagged by industry bodies such as ASCI.

The ASCI EdNext study proposed a framework called "RAISE"; to improve edtech communication. It

offers stakeholders a way to evaluate creatives and create progressive messages. ASCI hopes this guide

will help marketers and experts review concepts early in ad development.

The framework is based on five principles which include:

R – Relationship of the student with learning

A – Authenticity of situations, promises and claims

I – Inclusive representation of characters to depict diversity in gender, age, physical attributes,

personality types, learning styles and pace along with regional inclusion

S – Spectrum of pedagogy where there is information on learning methods and how they contribute to

holistic learning outcomes

E – Excellence markers to focus on overall development as a measure of success over ranks and marks

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Manisha Kapoor, CEO of ASCI, stated that the edtech sector has become crucial, particularly during the

pandemic as parents sought out these companies to support their children's education.

Edtech has the ability to solve some fundamental infrastructure and content challenges and

revolutionize Indian education. However, given the particular asymmetry between vulnerable parents

and students on the one hand, and large organizations on the other, it is critical to ensure that

advertising is responsible and does not exploit these vulnerabilities ; she said in a statement.

EdTech advertising has a massive opportunity to build a positive and future-facing narrative, which

makes for compelling brand stories that also build confident and multifaceted learners, said Kapoor.

Divya Gokulnath, Co-chair of Indian Ed-tech Consortium and co-founder of BYJU’S, said the edtech

industry strives to present a balanced picture and must adapt to make learning effective for all. ASCI's

initiative will aid in creating responsible and effective ad campaigns as the industry continues to grow

and improve.

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