scorecardParents beware: Coaching classes and edtechs make the most false claims
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Parents beware: Coaching classes and edtechs make the most false claims

Parents beware: Coaching classes and edtechs make the most false claims
EducationEducation3 min read
  • If you search ‘number one private tuitions near me,’ you would come across at least 10 ‘number one’ coaching classes in your locality
  • Not only do these institutes claim to be number one, they have also started guaranteeing jobs and offering pedagogy teaching methods or promising 100% results in 10th or 12th grade.
  • It is because of this rise in false claims that India’s advertising watchdog, the Advertising Standards Council of India has received more complaints from angry Indian parents and students.
  • The education industry is the biggest violator of India’s advertising rules and regulations as it continues to dupe consumers with misleading claims.
Every second street corner has an ad for a Number One private tuition. A few others claim to have secured 100% results be it JEE, NEET and other professional exams.

These bold statements hit the weakest point of Indian parents who are keen on their children getting into ‘best’ institutes. If not lakhs, most parents shell out tens of thousands to these centres with such baseless claims.

It’s no surprise that India’s advertising watchdog, the Advertising Standards Council of India received the maximum complaints of misleading ads from educational institutions – both online and offline.

During the fiscal year 2021-22, ASCI received a total of 5,532 complaints of misleading advertisements. The education sector leads the list with 33% of the complaints received from enraged parents against edtech platforms, private education institutes and coaching classes for making false, misleading and exaggerated claims.

“Education is a service that goes across to every citizen of this country and particularly in an area that is of high concern and importance to parents. A lot of private institutes and tuitions cater to local and regional audiences with promising claims like job guarantees,” said Manisha Kapoor, CEO and secretary general of ASCI.

ASCI also carefully scrutinises BYJU’s White Hat Jr, Unacademy and other edtech platforms. In the past, White Hat Jr had to withdraw a misleading and false advertisement that showcased a 7-year-old girl as a TEDx speaker and app developer.

Apart from being successful institutes, some platforms promise new-age pedagogy teaching with misleading ads. The list included ads making tall and usually unverifiable claims by universities, private tuitions, business schools, pre-schools and local coaching classes.

Sharing more about the false claims, Kapoor added, “It also includes misleading claims like being the number one institute without having the correct basis for it, or having certain pedagogy methodology which may not necessarily be proven or promising certain marks or helping students clear certain tests.”

Swelling ad budgets of edtech platforms

Within education, the mushrooming edtech industry, whose market size is currently valued at around $700-800 million, is a major concern for the advertising watchdog.

Earlier this month, EdTech giants Byju’s and Unacamedy were summoned by the consumer affairs ministry over 'extra study pressure' complaints received by parents.

To tackle the number of rising complaints, ASCI is working on a report to crack down on misleading ads in the sector.

“EdTech comprises 6% of the total education complaints that we looked at but the impact of edtech is much more because, unlike small fragmented players, edtech players have big budgets and they are present on big [advertising] mediums. We do see a concern with edtech and we are working on an edtech study to understand the themes and harmful claims that are being made,” said Kapoor.

The edtech industry is the third biggest advertiser in India so, it has a wider reach to a large number of consumers in India.

The ‘BIG’ IPL spenders

During the recently concluded season 15 of the Indian Premier League, which is India’s biggest advertising carnival, education institutes and edtech platforms contributed to 6% of the advertising volumes on television, as per media research firm TAM, making it one of the leading spenders.

EdTech players like Think & Learn and EPX Uptech were the biggest spenders on television channels during the last season of IPL. After education, healthcare and personal care were among the top three industries which failed to comply with the advertising rules and regulations, the most.