With the current lockdown in progress, the perpetually stressed out Indian student is enjoying a breather and exploring their careers through counselling. While things are slow in the education front, the Indian education industry can take advantage of this gap to tech up.
Indian students are often scurrying around seeking information about careers, institutes, etc. with an invisible cloud of pressure above their heads. However, with exams either postponed or cancelled, schools and colleges closed, India’s student population has some much needed time to contemplate on its future. That is why more and more students and parents are using the time to seek counselling expertise.
At the same time, as education institutions remain idle, Aditya Mishra, Co-founder of Mumbai-based startup, POGI (Point of Genuine Information), tells The Tech Panda that it’s a great time for Indian education to digitize.
There is an over-abundance of information out there. If everyone says they are the best, who do you trust?
“I think this is the right time for all education industries to transform to digital. We’re seeking to change the traditional mind set to digital. This is a chance,” he says.
Although POGI claims to have counselled around 20,000 students in the last eight years, the COVID-19 induced lockdown has accelerated this pace manifold. More and more students and parents have been using POGI to use this time to understand what kind of career options are out there.
“The work we have been able to do in the last 40-50 days, we haven’t done in the last seven-eight years. There are many inconveniences but students have so much time to think and rethink,” he says.
POGI Filters the Over Abundant Information
Indian education can be incredibly stressful for students as well as parents. This has resulted in an overwhelming amount of information in the education market, most of which might be fake. POGI connects users with vetted subject matter experts and advisors from a global professional network.
“There is an over-abundance of information out there. If everyone says they are the best, who do you trust?” Mishra asks.
Researching this pain point, the POGI team found that the lack of genuine information is pushing young career seekers to follow a herd mentality. Students aren’t able to explore the reasons why they should be following a career, they are just following an oft-repeated path.
“Especially in engineering we found that most students come by force not choice,” he says.
India is a land of software engineers. As per a survey, around 880 thousand students were enrolled in computer science engineering in 2019. Yet, in every engineering batch, how many actually wanted to be engineers?
The ‘engineer’ and ‘doctor’ fever started in India decades ago, so that with the birth of almost every child, parents start dreaming their future profession. What the student wants to become or has the aptitude for is irrelevant. It’s also irrelevant if the student is excelling in subjects other than Maths and the Sciences. A student is only a topper if he/she excels in these subjects. In fact, if they have topped, there is even more pressure for to join sciences.
The reasons for such over-optimism for the engineering profession range from a steady job with benefits, value in the marriage market, and societal approval.
While, in recent years, India has been opening up to alternative subjects like animation, photography, journalism, and advertising, it’s still a struggle for students to be able to make such choices. Mishra points out that parents are a very significant part of this problem.
That’s why POGI is a solution for both the student and the parent. Even their tag line says,
“Connecting students and parents with expert counsellors.”
The lack of genuine information leads parents to desperately try to mould their children’s careers according to what they know. However, without proper information, they follow what they see around them.
According to him, even urban parents with awareness often are in need of counselling.
“Many parents fail to determine the interests and hobbies of their own child, especially in places like Mumbai, Pune, and Bengaluru, because in our families, parents think only engineering can bring my child success,” he says.
I think this is the right time for all education industries to transform to digital. We’re seeking to change the traditional mind set to digital. This is a chance
That’s why POGI provides counselling expertise for students, right from kindergarten to PhD. But why would kindergarten students need counselling? The answer once again boils down to parents. Mishra explains with an example from his hometown Jamshedpur.
Jamshedpur is a city with a population of 20-25 lakhs. Being one of the steel cities of India, about 20% of that works in Tata motors, Tata steel, etc. Other than this population, most are generally auto rickshaw drivers.
“These parents want their children to enter convent schools like Loyola. And that’s where they need financial consultation. They believe that if my child will go to that school, only then his/her career will be great,” he says.
In our families, parents think only engineering can bring my child success
After an assessment, keeping their financial constraints in mind, as advisors, POGI shows such parents that other equally good options are also available. Hence, there is no need to covet expensive schools.
The Prestigious Sciences
The inspiration for POGI comes from a personal place. As a topper in school up to tenth grade, Mishra naturally became a science student with PCM (Physics, Chemistry, Maths), later finishing with a degree in engineering. It was only later that he found out that the commerce stream too had bright future prospects.
“No one ever told me that I could graduate in commerce. I never knew that commerce students have any importance. If someone had guided me, I would definitely have graduated from commerce in financial management. And that’s the reason why I’m here right now,” says the 27-year old.
Connect and Communicate
To use POGI, the user creates his/her profile on the app and then scours the many experts registered there. After they find an advisor who suits their need, they can connect and communicate via phone call, email, text, or even in person. Whether the advice sought is about engineering, photography, or digital marketing, expert advice is always available.
At the same time, anyone with genuine knowledge about careers can join the app as a mentor or advisor.
“It’s a common platform for mentors and mentees both. If you have knowledge of tech products or photography, you can join as an advisor. If someone is looking for tech information, they will directly contact you,” he explains.
This way POGI is trying to bridge the gap between the clueless student and genuine knowledge by removing the excessive unfiltered information available out there.