It’s no secret that Hong Kong kids are under an immense amount of pressure when it comes to their education. In this rigorous and competitive learning environment, children are always kept busy with after school activities to help them shine above the rest – but at what cost? We talk to Jennifer Chin, mother of three and founder of Hong Kong’s first education review platform, Whizpa, which aims to help parents make smart decisions about their child’s extra curricula activities and help Hong Kong kids avoid the risk of cracking under too much pressure.
We all want to give the best to our children and ensure they are equipped with skills that will help them succeed in the future. As a mother of three, I myself have gone through the last decade finding different activities and schools for my two older children, and I now have to go through the same experience again with my youngest one who is just 1.5 years old. But with so many education providers spanning across various categories like music, arts, language, academic, and sport, finding one that suits my children in terms of quality of teachers, curriculum, location, and price can feel impossible and at times really overwhelming. And our children are the ones who suffer.
Too Much Pressure
A recent survey shows that over 50% of children in Hong Kong have 1 to 3 different activities a week, 42% have 4 to 7 activities a week, and the rest over 7 different activities a week. The pressure placed on children to develop their skills and round themselves into desirable candidates for school and university applications is immense in this city, and so is the pressure that parents feel when it comes to choosing the right education providers for their children. This raises a number of important questions when it comes to making the right decision. For starters, with so many advertising channels in Hong Kong for educators, how can parents find activities for their children and how can they compare the same service or product offered by different providers out there? Given that there are currently over 2,000 education providers in Hong Kong, ranging from arts, languages to sports, music and academia, it’s impossible for parents to know all of them, let alone compare each of them.
More importantly, how can parents make sure they choose the right activities the first time round instead of having their children go through different ones to find the best fit? From a recent survey, 99% of the parents have their children doing some sort of activities per week, with many children doing several activities in the hope of searching for the right one that interests or suits them. In some cases, parents are also keen to “discover” their child’s talent in academia, sports, or arts, and mould their child’s strengths by giving extra support in these areas outside of school. For example, a lot of parents believe if a child is taught how to play rugby at an early age, they will eventually get better and better at it and perhaps one day play on an international scale. The idea that talent can be taught and cultured through continuous activities and lessons can lead to children being burdened with too many activities which is detrimental to the child’s overall wellbeing. We don’t want Hong Kong’s children to suffer from a nervous breakdown before they even enter the workforce.
Finding a Solution
With these concerns in mind, I felt compelled to create a solution by providing a platform for parents to read reviews, ratings and rankings of different providers in order to gain a better understanding of whether an activity or education provider is well suited for their child. Whizpa is an edutech start up focused on building Hong Kong’s first education review website, which springs from my knowledge that close to 90% of Hong Kong parents rely on word of mouth or recommendations from other parents when finding activities for their children.
I appreciate that parents always feel they can get the “inside scoop” and comfort from other parents’ experiences with their children. Hearing from a parent that their child has tried a certain center or class activity is a strong testament to the quality of service given by an education provider. Secondly, there is a lot of information on different providers all around us, but in different pockets or channels in Hong Kong. It was clear to me that parents would benefit from one central portal to find the information they need – thus was the creation of Whizpa.
How Whizpa Works
I have information which I can get from magazines, websites, search engines, shopping malls, flyers in the mail, and mini buses etc. Information is fragmented and available everywhere, but not structured and consolidated in one place. So what I have done is create a platform that can bring all this information together on a website which is easily accessible to parents. Think TripAdvisor but on education in Hong Kong.
I believe this platform will help parents find and compare activities easier, more efficiently and effectively. They can read other parents’ reviews, ratings, and rankings, as well as compare prices of classes offered by each provider, before making a decision on which one to go for. A survey showed that about 75% of parents find it relatively hard and difficult to compare the same service or product offered by the many education providers in Hong Kong, so this offers a solution to that particular problem. If they can read reviews and ratings on the services or products by parents who have used the service, and compare prices, they are better equipped to make a smart decision and get it right the first time round.
Giving Parents a Voice
Parents can also write their own reviews and give ratings for the services or products they have received to share with others. In a way, it is also an informal channel to voice their opinion as consumers in the education space especially when private education centers are loosely regulated by the Hong Kong Government. With this information sharing, parents may perhaps make a more informed decision on whether to pursue a certain activity for their children and hopefully eliminate the need for “trial and error”, thus resulting in less need for children to be pressured to do so many activities outside of school.
Moreover, when it comes to purchasing classes, education is a sector where payments are still done through the traditional way of cheques, cash, or bank transfers. We have people shopping for products and services online these days from clothing to food and takeout, but not so much in the education sector yet. Whizpa will conveniently allow busy parents to purchase or renew classes online, thus saving the providers administrative work when it comes to processing checks and cash payments.
A Revolution for Parents and Kids
Currently in Hong Kong, we don’t have such a consolidated platform yet, although we do have a lot of unstructured parent forums and social media groups which serve as a blog and more passive in terms of engaging the public. With Whizpa we hope to revolutionise the way parents search for activities for their children. It will be proactive where a parent just has to type in activities and locations they are looking for and they can get all the information they need all on ONE platform with reviews and ratings from other parents. The website will be run by parents for parents and free for all to use. We hope to help parents get it right the first time round when finding activities for their children, thus relieving the pressure on Hong Kong kids.
More about Whizpa
Whizpa is currently running a crowdfunding campaign on Next Chapter, a women entrepreneur focused platform, with the aim of launching in April, 2017. The campaign is currently 70% funded since its launch on March 8 and is scheduled to end on May 15. Help it reach the target and find out more about the campaign here.