The TUEX app tracks the student's location and students can rate instructors to help other students find the best match for their tutoring needs. Photo: TUEX Education

TUEX International Education, a Vancouver-based online platform matching students with tutors, said it has seen a rising demand in online tutorials as students could not go to schools as usual amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Since the global epidemic broke out in early this year, a lot of parents have been searching for tutors for their children during class suspension,” Alfred Chien, co-founder at TUEX International Education, told Asia Times in an interview.

Many parents were willing to pay for online education as they had no time to teach their children at home, Chien said.

Alfred Chien, co-founder at TUEX International Education. Photo: TUEX

With online tutorials, many parents did not have to spend time sending their children to tutorial centers, while students could also avoid being infected in face-to-face classes, he said.

Parents were worried that the Covid-19 disease, which had a death rate of 3%, could cause permanent damage to their children’s lungs, he added.

In 1995, Chien migrated to Canada from Hong Kong with his parents when he was in his teens. While studying Economics at The University of British Columbia, he worked as a part-time tutor and an agent who helps match students with tutors.

After he graduated in 2004, he continued his tutorial business. When he started working as a business relationship manager for a bank in 2008, he reduced his agency role but kept tutoring 30 to 40 students per week.

In 2017, he quit his private banking job in a bid to focus more on the tutorial sector. In 2018, he co-founded TUEX, which is aimed at connecting more than five million K-12 students and two million university students in Canada to tutors within their region. 

To date, the platform features more than 1,000 tutors and 1,000 students in Metro Vancouver.

Chien said TUEX was welcomed by parents as it put child protection on its highest priority.

“We have zero tolerance to sexual abuse or harassment in the tutorials on our platform,” Chien said. “A lot of people asked me why I am so concerned about this as the sex crime rate in the education sector could only be about 0.01%, which refers to one abuse case in every 10,000 teachers. I told them I wouldn’t accept any single abuse case related to our platform.”

Many people, particularly those in the Chinese community, used to hire tutors on the recommendations of friends or relatives, but they had never checked the backgrounds of these tutors, he said. TUEX required all teachers to complete a criminal record check at the local police station before they could teach underage students and minority students, he said.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, all TUEX tutorials were done face-to-face. Since February this year, most of the company’s tutorials have gone online.

“We see ourselves as an online platform similar to Uber and Airbnb but we are in the education sector,” Chien said. “Tutors and mentors can set their own prices based on their experience and expertise while the market will decide for them.”

Due to the epidemic, low-price tutorials had seen a stronger demand than the high-price ones, he said.

To provide low-income students with opportunities to study online, Chien and some experts in the education sector founded the TUEX Foundation in 2018.

“We want to enrich the underprivileged students’ learning through the help of experienced mentors and to equip them with the ability to change their academic results,” Chien said. “We believe that education is a catalyst for change that can inspire students to champion their ambitions.”

By donating 1% of its revenue to the TUEX Foundation, TUEX Education has been verified by B Lab, a non-profit organization, as a certified B corporation in July this year. Under the BC Venture Capital Act, a BC residence can enjoy tax credits equivalent to 30% of his investment in an Eligible Business Corporation

TUEX, which now has three full-time staff, was planning to raise about C$3 million (US$2.28 million) to expand its businesses into the Toronto and Montreal markets and upgrade its servers. Its app now supported the English, Chinese and Korean languages and would extend to Japanese, French and Spanish.

TUEX would also launch a new service where a student could ask a question online by offering a small fee to tutors from all around the world, Chien said.

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