Since arriving in Hong Kong in 2009, Math Monkey, an education institute that aims to inspire children to learn and think through performing calculations, has expanded to five outlets.
With parents becoming ever more aware of the importance of inspiring children to learn on their own instead of bombarding them with revision exercises, Math Monkey has been steadily gaining in popularity and is ready to take the next step in expansion.
'People are starting to accept our concept, which is inspiring students to think rather than having them memorise mathematical formulae. More and more people are approaching us to become a Math Monkey franchisee. This led us to set a goal to expand to 50 outlets in the next five years,' says Karen Kwan, Math Monkey Hong Kong general manager.
Kwan thinks there will be huge room for Math Monkey to develop because parents are willing to spend money on education, adding that the courses Math Monkey offers are unique. 'I see a bright future in the education business. Hong Kong is a place where local residents are very willing to invest. Even during the Sars outbreak, parents were not willing to reduce spending on their children's education,' she says.
'What makes Math Monkey stand out is that we offer innovative teaching methods that are not yet common in Hong Kong. We offer a happy and relaxed learning experience for children to learn through games. It is not at all exam-oriented,' Kwan says.
Due to the high rents in Hong Kong, Kwan does not expect every centre to be too big. Each centre will have two classrooms, with two teachers and 200 to 300 students. Currently, the company offers maths programmes only but aims to add English, financial planning and brain development programmes in future, with further job opportunities for teachers.
'Our target customers are kindergarten and primary school students, so we need people who love children. They do not necessarily have to come from an education background as we will provide training on how to teach and communicate with parents. People with a caring heart for children are what we want,' Kwan says.
'It takes a great deal of effort to teach as every student has his or her own individual needs, so we are definitely looking for people who love to work with kids. Right now, we have mothers and financial professionals, besides teachers, who have shown interest in joining us,' she says.
Ken Chung, Math Monkey Education Centre (Tsuen Wan) centre operator, was a construction engineer before joining the programme a year ago. Chung now supervises two teachers and expects them to be able to encourage children to learn.
'My first criterion for a Math Monkey teacher is being able to communicate with children because they need to know how to talk to them to inspire them to learn. The class size at Math Monkey is six to eight, so students can expect plenty of attention from the teacher, who will cater for the learning needs of each one,' he says.