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Will the summons by Child Rights Commission dent BYJU's brand image?

NCPCR observed that BYJU's indulging in malpractices to lure parents and children

BYJU's logo Representational image

The edtech sector has been rocked ever since BYJU's CEO, Byju Raveendran, has been summoned to appear in person before the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights over alleged malpractice of hard selling and mis-selling of its courses for students. The commission has observed that BYJU's is indulging in malpractices to lure parents and children to enter into loan-based agreements and hence it is exploiting them. 

Experts with whom THE WEEK spoke feel that a brand like BYJU's should have acted in a responsible manner and it may dent its brand image in the long run, especially among new subscribers and existing parents. 

“Typically these issues do affect the brand image as far as the company is concerned. Issues such as these will also affect the decisions of parents when it comes to decision-making on buys,” remarked Harish Bijoor, Business and Brand-strategy expert and Founder, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc. Experts do feel that such kind of instances is a reminder call for companies to evaluate the impact of their decisions on the society and the stakeholders of their business. 

“It is not enough to take care of the interest of the shareholders and customers. They need to act in a responsible manner. Though MCA (Ministry of Corporate Affairs) and SEBI mandate several provisions for the companies, they must introspect if they are standing strong on moral and ethical grounds,” said Aditya Mishra, MD and CEO at CIEL HR. 

Technology experts such as Sudin Baraokar, the global IT and Innovation Advisor feel that edtech startups must focus on the innovation and transformation agenda and must have ethical practices in terms of GTM and monetisation. “Such startups must work with the authorities to ensure that the students enrolled in their course are getting the value addition from these courses. At the same time, parents must make their own due diligence on edtech offerings and must not be confused by the hype factor of their offerings,” Baraokar told THE WEEK. 

He further points out that probably there needs to be more active regulations in the edtech space, especially with a spotlight on how much the student is getting benefited. “More metrics and benchmarks need to be highlighted by the edtech companies and how are they complying with existing rules of the education ecosystem,” added Baraokar. 

Just before the world cup football, BYJU’s had announced that football star and global sports icon Lionel Leo Messi will be their first global brand ambassador of their social impact arm, 'Education For All.' Many had questioned BYJU's for hiring Messi, as the announcement came just days after it had announced retrenchments, while some opined the appointment might help lift the brand image of BYJU's as Messi is liked by scores of children and the FIFA world cup was around the corner. 

Experts also point out that though marketing hypes are important, it is equally important for edtech companies to focus on the value, innovation and transformation of their product and service offerings. The recent summons indicate that the brand need to strongly focus on being more responsible and ethical in its approach when it comes to dealing with the students and their parents. 

A spokesperson from BYJU's said, "We have received the summons yesterday. We are compiling a transparent response based on facts to address the unsubstantiated complaints. We will clarify our position before the commission if required."

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