Byju’s, a homegrown ed-tech startup, is under the pressure from many of its young users’ parents, leading government agencies to step in. The National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights has now revealed that the company has been targeting first-generation learners, compelling parents to purchase courses and, in some cases, purchasing their phone numbers. The NCPCR’s chairperson, Priyank Kanoongo, told news agency ANI that the body had taken measures and will submit a report to the government. On December 23, the commission questioned Byju’s CEO, Byju Raveendran, amid charges of hard-selling courses and misleading pupils.
A brief about Byju’s buying phone numbers of children and threatening parents
NCPCR’s charges are denied by the edtech corporation. “Byju’s categorically denies purchasing student database information. We definitely assert that we have never purchased any database and anticipate that the media would stop from making such an unsubstantiated and baseless allegation “In an email statement, a company spokeswoman informed India Today Tech.
Kanoongo stated to the news agency, “We learned about Byju purchasing phone numbers of youngsters and their parents, rigorously tracking them, and threatening them with ruining their future. They are aiming for first-generation students. We will take measures and, if necessary, will prepare a report and write to the government.”
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Byju’s was rapidly expanding in India, and the platform provided a variety of courses to students across the country. The company’s portfolio was also enlarged through a series of acquisitions. Several media, however, have spoken to parents whose children are learning about courses through the platform in recent months. The corporation is also under financial difficulty, and it just lay off 5% of its workers.
The Context (powered by Thomson Reuters Foundation) met with 22 Byju clients, including some from low-income households, and discovered that families had been affected “Salespeople aggressively pursued them, and some were pressured into paying for courses. Some families were also “duped” into taking out loans and were subsequently left out of cash.”
Furthermore, “Byju’s staff took advantage of a desire to give the best education for their children and encroached on their privacy by ambushing them in public, harassing them at home, or secretly gathering their data,” according to the report.
Similarly, the Consumer Affairs (CA) department expressed concerns about Byju’s market tactics. Byju’s has yet to respond to the NCPCR’s charges.