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Online Tutoring Slowly Sees Traction in Bangladesh

The big picture: Education, in general, and across verticals, has been going through a transformation over the past years. Globally, MOOCs are changing how we learn and teach. Companies like Skillshare are changing skill development narratives. Companies like Byju’s are changing K12 education. In Bangladesh, we have seen a fair amount of slow yet steady disruption taking place over the past years. Companies like 10 Minute School, REPTO, Bohubrihi, Eduhive, EshoShikhi, Shikhbe Shobai, Kajki, Caretutor, Yoda are addressing various verticals within the education. 

One growing vertical is tutoring. Tutoring has always been a big market in Bangladesh. A predominantly offline market, tutoring has been littered with inefficiency and frictions for both the tutors, parents, and students. 

A lucrative market: Education is a big market. According to some estimates, average Bangladeshis spend some 34% of their household income on the education of their offspring. The market for tutoring is estimated to be BDT 1.5 billion per year and growing at a rate of 10%. 

The old world: Tutoring is mostly done by university students in Bangladesh. There are a handful of ways students find tuition and parents find tutors. One, through a personal network with other students who already have tuition. Second, through tuition media agencies who charge a month worth of salary payment from each student for providing tuition. 

For parents, finding great tutors is not easy. There are tuition media agencies that help parents find tutors. Then many parents also distribute small leaflets across university and college campuses. Despite the best efforts, it is hard to find quality tutors for parents. More importantly, the traditional tuition media agencies seldom provide quality service, verification option, and so on. On top of that, access to quality tutors and teachers remains a tall order outside major urban centers. 

The existing process is largely inefficient for both students who are looking for tuition opportunities and parents who are looking for good tutors on multiple levels. As a tutor you can’t choose which tuition you want to do, location, or monthly pay. Moreover, there is always uncertainty regarding finding tuition. For parents, the challenges are manifold. You can’t essentially verify the skill of a tutor and so on. 

The future of tutoring: This is where a new breed of digital tutoring platforms come into play. Akin to ecommerce marketplaces and job posting sites, on one level these companies attempt to connect students or tutors with parents and students who are looking for tutors and on the other level, these companies aggregate tuition jobs as well as tutors who are looking for tuition opportunities.

Today, there are some sizable players operating in the vertical such as Yoda, Caretutor and a handful of others. Most of these players remain limited to Dhaka and major urban centers in coverage. They offer benefits like verified tutors, security, quality assurance, service and so on to both parents and tutors. 

The marketplace is the norm for now but the future is different: Almost all of these players operate as a marketplace as of now. The second and more prominent layer of online tutoring, which is remote video tutoring, which companies like VIP Kid, Vedantu in India have popularized in markets like India and the US, is yet to be a widespread phenomenon in Bangladesh. But it is likely to become a dominant trend in tutoring in the coming years. Companies like Yoda have already started working on products that would allow scale tutoring using technology. 

The bottom line: There are already multi-billion dollar online tutoring platforms across markets. Vedantu in India. Skooli in Canada. VIP Kid in China. And many other successful companies across markets. Although Bangladesh’s tech adaptation has been slow, the market is catching up. The future remains bright. 

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Ruhul Kader is a technology and business analyst based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Future Startup and author of Rethinking Failure: A short guide to living an entrepreneurial life. He writes about internet business, strategy, technology, technology policy, and society. He can be reached at [email protected]

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