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NEW DELHI: With most schools still shut and learning largely online, a bunch of edtech startups are offering extra-curricular courses to engage children and make them future-ready. Going beyond the traditional test preparation and online tutoring programmes, these courses offer dance and music, chess, yoga, quizzing and make-up courses, and even provide opportunities to learn from celebrities in respective fields.

Kyt, started by former Uber Eats India head Bhavish Rathod and wife Tripti Ahuja in June, offers workshops and courses in dance, music, chess, musical instruments, yoga, public speaking and creative writing for children between 5-15 years.

Also Read: How schooling in rural India is plunging into darkness

“Education is incomplete without extracurricular pursuits. In fact, we believe that supporting a child’s inclination to learn new things aren’t “additional" or extra – they are essential to all-round development. Nurturing interests outside the world of academia equips children with essential life skills," said Rathod.

In November, Kyt raised $2.5 million led by Sequoia’s Surge and said over 2,000 students have enrolled from countries including India, UAE and Singapore. Children can also learn from celebrities like Indian chess Grandmaster Vidit Gujrathi, Philippines' hip-hop legend Ruel Varindani and yoga instructor Sabrina Merchant.

Within a year, Kyt plans to increase teacher strength from 20 to about 500 and add more courses.

Similarly Bengaluru-based QShala uses quizzing as a learning tool to foster life-skills and curiosity in children.

“Our focus on life skills or future-readiness is to holistically solve for the problems of the future. Academic and test preparation solutions solve for the current problems for kids and parents. We’re solving for a problem to ensure children are well-prepared for an ever-changing future. The year 2020 has taught us that," said Sachin Ravi and Raghav Chakravarthy, co-founders, QShala.

What started in 2014 as a predominantly offline space for hosting quizzes and other events in partnership with schools and students, Qshala moved towards online quizzing during the pandemic. It also started a Sunday family quiz that has grown from over 50 families in March to 50,000 families spread across the world today.

The market size for co-curricular and extra-curricular learning is estimated to be $10 billion in India alone and around $200 billion globally.

Learning and community platform Frontrow, which is focused on creative arts and sports and offers classes taught by celebrities, claims there is massive demand for learning in non-academic fields. Co-founder Ishaanpreet Singh said there are over 26 million people who already pay to learn in these categories.

“There is little to no structured curriculum available, the entire teaching market is unorganized and the quality of resources available for learning is very low. In fact, the decades of learnings amassed by the best singers, cricketers or writers are often inaccessible to most learners," Singh added.

Airblack, that runs a beauty and makeup online learning platform, currently offers two makeup courses - gold for beginners and platinum for professionals.

“More than 1,000 people have taken the course in the last 6 months. We are now enrolling more students in a month than some of the largest academies in India," claims co-founder Videt Jaiswal. “At Airblack, we focus on helping people get trained in skills which they can use to become entrepreneurs or creators, using the power of the Internet. More people watch Makeup learning content on Youtube than IIT and UPSC videos combined."

Investors expect $20 billion to be spent in learning every year by these creators and micro-entrepreneurs.

“India already has 20 million freelancers and their aspirations are changing fast in a digital world. We expect a lot of valuable companies to be built over the next decade that will cater to the needs of these independent entrepreneurs - and it all starts with education and making their passions more monetizable," says Vaas Bhaskar, Vice-President, Elevation Capital, that has backed both FrontRow and Airblack.

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