The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) on Tuesday said the edtech decacorn Byju’s Think & Learn Private Limited is allegedly "buying phone numbers of children and their parents", and "threatening" them that if they don’t buy Byju’s cources, their future will be ruined.
“We came to know how Byju's buying phone numbers of children & their parents, rigorously following them & threatening them that their future will be ruined. They're targeting first-generation learners. We'll initiate action & if need be will make report & write to government,” a national news agency quoted NCPCR chief as saying.
However, Byju's denied allegations of aggressive sales tactics. In a statement, the company said, "We strongly deny any allegation of using aggressive sales tactics. We have 150 million registered users on our platform and we only respond to inbound queries. There is zero tolerance for abuse of customer privacy and collection of student data without parental consent."
The child rights organisation has already summoned BYJU’s founder and chief executive officer Byju Raveendran on December 23 over alleged malpractice of hard selling and misspelling of its courses to the students, based on a news report.
NCPCR said, “As the Commission has come across a news article wherein it has been pointed out that the sales team of BYJU'S is indulging in malpractices to lure parents to buy their courses for their children. lt has also been mentioned in the news report that some customers have also claimed that they were exploited and deceived, and had put their savings and futures in jeopardy.”
“The Commission is in observance that indulging into malpractices to lure the parents or children into entering loan based agreements and then causing exploitation is against the welfare of children and in pursuance of the functions and powers under Section 13 and 14 of CPCR Act, 2005,” the child's right commission added.
The development comes amid growing concerns of layoffs and financial constraints at Byju’s. To achieve profitability by March 2023, the edtech firm has announced to lay off 2,500 employees — around 5% of its 50,000-strong workforce. To avoid redundancies and duplication of roles, around 5% of Byju's workforce is expected to be rationalised across product, content, media, and technology teams in a phased manner, the decacorn said earlier.
The edtech company, however, said it will continue to hire a total of 10,000 more teachers in the coming year, adding to its current strength of 20,000 teachers. To fuel its growth, the company is expanding its teams along with hiring senior leadership to further build operational strength.
The company also rolled back its decision to shut down its technopark office in Thiruvananthapuram after the intervention by the Kerala government that would have impacted as many as 140 employees.
Apart from having to slashing workforce, the edtech firm is also expericing financial constraints. In 2021, Byju's loss on a standalone basis, which includes its K-12 vertical, stood at ₹2,702.14 crore for FY21, as compared to a net profit of ₹7.39 crore during FY20. Byju's revenue from operations also dropped to ₹1,378.51 crore, down from ₹1,918.25 crore during a year before.
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