Hà Minh Khoa (standing, on the left) and hí start-up team work on the development of the platform at their office in HCM City. — Photo courtesy of Social Revolution JSC.
HCM CITY — Juggling further education with financial responsibilities can be a tough task at best.
Many students sacrifice their studies in pursuit of a pay packet, often choosing to work for ride-hailing taxi firms to make the most of their free time.
But now, one company has developed a platform to help pair children with older students who can teach, putting the emphasis on affordable education.
Instead of taking passengers from A to B, this new platform matches up students with pupils, allowing them to raise their income by becoming tutors.
“It will take advantage of knowledge of students and teachers while supplement additional source of income for them,” Nguyễn Hà Minh Thông, 25, the founder of Edubox Gia Sư (Edubox Tutor).
“Normally, parents have to go to tutoring agencies to register for tutors. This takes time while there is no accurate assessment of the capacity of the tutor they will choose.”
The app works similar to existing ride-hailing apps like Grab and Uber.
Students who have time to teach can register their personal details and pair up with parents who are looking for extra help teaching their children.
Edubox, an educational technology platform, helps connect pupils with teachers in a model similar to the ride-hailing firms many of them are already working for.
This allows students to be proactive in both their work and study while allowing parents find the right teachers for their budget.
It’s not just students who can benefit. Parents of younger children can also find tutors to help teach their kids.
With this platform, parents only need to download the App and fill in the request and the system will automatically select tutors in accordance with the criteria that they [parents] desire. In addition, the app also helps find tutoring classes in the areas they live.
Learners or their parents have opportunities to choose the most suitable tutor through the app and more importantly, through the assessments of students who have studied with the tutor.
Tutors can connect directly with students and don’t have to pay a deposit in advance. They can select the ones suitable to the time, location and skills while the number of classes are not limited.
As people’s living condition has improved, they will focus more on the importance of a decent education for their children.
Parents also don’t want their children to fall behind in school, so often employ tutors to give extra lessons outside of the classroom.
According to a HSBC report in 2017, Vietnamese parents place great importance on their children’s education with spending on education accounting for 47 per cent of the total household expenditure.
“One of the biggest advantages of Edubox Gia Sư is the ability to negotiate price,” Thông said.
“Thanks to this characteristic, people with medium income still find the right tutor. Previously, only children from well-off families enjoy private tutoring.
“In addition, the fact that the teaching could be held online and offline provides parents more choice.”
Co-founder Hà Minh Khoa said background checks are carried out to make sure the tutors have the right qualifications.
“All potential tutors have their certificates and learning record verified,” he said. “Only those with good record were qualified for the job.
“During the tutoring period, teachers who can’t meet the demand will be sacked. Feedback of students and parents was also taken account on these cases.”
Nguyễn Hà Minh Thông introduces Edubox app to a visitor at Vietnam Start-up Day 2019 in HCM City. — Photo courtesy of HCM Youth Union
As a newly-established start-up, Thông said the company faced many difficulties.
He said: “During the preparation for the product, I and Khoa [co-founder], had other jobs. We met at 8-9pm in the evening and worked online with programmer team for a year to have the first version of Edubox.
“We quit out jobs to focus on the Edubox project in March last year. Two months after that, the first version of Edubox was launched, marking the beginning of a journey filled with challenges.”
The COVID-19 pandemic was a typical example.
The pandemic caused severe damage to Edubox as the tutoring had to be suspended during social distancing.
Students were on long-term leave and they had to go home and parents were reluctant to allow strangers into their homes.
“That's why we have developed an online teaching platform to serve COVID and post-COVID periods when people’s habits changed dramatically,” Thông said.
“Adaptation to natural disaster and social changes is what the company has chosen.”
The start-up has gradually overcome difficulties and gained initial success, he said.
It was among top five most favourite projects voted by HCM City Innovation, Start-up and Entrepreneurship Week (WHISE 2019).
Now, Edubox has 14,000 users, 10,000 tutors, 4,000 parents.
He said the platform is not limited to people in HCM City but also available for those living across the country.
Having used the platform for almost a year, Nguyễn Tấn Trung, 52, a chemistry teacher, said what he liked best was how easy it is to link with parents.
“The platform helps learners find tutors easily and they have more choice,” he said, adding that learners received information after teachers/ tutors post an opening schedule of tuition sessions on the platform regardless of their distance.
“Whenever the learners have questions, they can ask for support from the teachers at any time,” Trung said.
Facebook user Quang Văn Định commented on Edubox’s fanpage saying the app was very effective.
“It supports both tutors and parents based on their requests,” he wrote.
“The commission that tutor has to pay is also less than other tutoring agencies. I hope the platform will develop further in the future.”
Thông said in the future, the company planned to launch a platform dedicated to online teaching with more advanced features than others available in the market.
“It is not necessary for teachers to rent premises, buy tables and chairs while they have tools that make online teaching like face-to-face method thanks to outstanding features including white board, dividing students into groups, recorded video and screen sharing,” he said.
In October, the company would launch a Q&A section in the platform.
“When a student is “stuck” with a question, a team of tutors will answer it immediately.”
One case that gave Thông particular satisfaction was when a severely paralysed 30-year-old needed someone to teach him writing skills.
“This job was not just about teaching but also tolerance and patience. At first I thought that hardly anyone would apply for the job, especially the students.”
However, he said, three students from medical universities have responded to the request. Then, a student from HCM City University of Medicine and Pharmacy had been chosen.
“I thought that the man’s family would felt more secure when a student from medical university took the job and the student himself had the opportunity to practise what he has learnt,” Thông said, adding that all staff of the company were glad for they have helped match the tutor and the learner. — VNS