The knack Indian parents have for teaching their children is acting as a game-changer for educational toys, raising their demand by 15 percent year-on-year.
"In the coming days demand for educational toys will be more as the parents want more cerebral games for their children," Shyam Makhija, director, business development, Pegasus ToyKraft, told IANS. "Educational toys have the potential to grow at around 15 percent year-on-year in the next five years."
As education is foremost on the Indian parents' mind, they look out for toys which provide educational value through play. Industry stakeholders are of the opinion that most toys provide educational value in some way or the other.
"From a purist's point of view we can look at an edutainment toy as one which provides direct and immediate educational learning through play. The categories which fit the bill most appropriately are educational jigsaw puzzles, tile puzzles, memory-based games, do-it-yourself art and craft kits, builder blocks and construction sets," he said.
"The scope of the educational toy industry is growing among the literate class of society. There had always been a relationship between learning and playing and it is very important to understand that," Sunil Nanda, president of the Toy Association of India told IANS.
The estimated size of the retail toy industry is approximately Rs.10,000 crore (US$16 billion) he said. Paresh Chawla, director, Welby Impex, said toys play a major role to make a child learn various things while playing.
"That is the sole reason why Indian parents are spending more on educational toys nowadays." The industry has also held many seminars and talks with parents, teachers, psychologists and social scientists to understand what type of toys will help educate children of which age, he said.
"An educational toy should be able to add some cognitive value to the child. The presentation has to be very good so that a child doesn't get bored and it can arouse some curiosity in the child. Learning should happening subtly," Nanda added. He said it is important for the educational toys to be age and gender appropriate. "Lots of research are needed towards it." Kapil Tripathi, scientist at Vigyan Prasar, which makes activity-based learning materials, said they prepare these kits to make children understand the facts and the reasons behind various natural developments like earthquake or biodiversity.
Vigyan Prasar does not sell its products through any shop. The educational kits are highly subsidised and are directly procured from its offices. "The future looks bright considering that the current average amount spent for the child by the middle class and the rich in urban markets is as low as Rs.600-700 per child per annum," said Makhija. At present, approximately 300 professional toy manufacturers exist in India.