(Yicai Global) Dec. 12 -- Tencent Holdings Ltd. [HK:0700] is bullish about the early education market and is considering following Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. [NYSE:BABA] in pursuing the sector, where technology’s prevalence is on the rise.
Education technology is developing rapidly and has become a new hotspot for investors, Tencent President Liu Zhiping said at a forum in Hong Kong yesterday. The market has enormous growth potential and Tencent is considering backing relevant private businesses, Liu said.
The Shenzhen-based firm ventured into the online education market in 2014, and released its own internet-based learning platform, Tencent Class. The group’s investment fund has supported several cloud-based courses in recent years.
The business has not been very lucrative, but the company still wants to repay the community by putting money into education businesses, Liu said.
“I always ask myself how we can improve internet services so that frontline teachers will have more time to inspire students,” he said. “If we can use technology to create better teaching content in the background, teachers will have more time to focus on students’ individuality, behavior and mental health.”
Instructors are indispensable in many areas, and machines cannot instill a sense of individuality in students, help them develop a good attitude or nurture their ability to solve problems, he said.
Artificial intelligence will play an important part in education’s future, he said. “AI can assist teachers with marking and other repetitive tasks, and design courses based on the progress of individual students. Teachers can use cloud-based data collection and analysis to create personalized learning schedules that suit different students.”
Alibaba, one of Tencent’s competitors, previously entered the private education market.
Yungu School, an Alibaba-backed online education platform, went live in February. It is the second school the e-commerce behemoth developed after Hupan University. While Hupan University is a business school, Yungu represents Alibaba’s first endeavor to penetrate the traditional education industry.
Cosponsored by Alibaba’s partners, Yungu School has a nursery, a primary school, a middle school and a high school. Its teacher to student ratio is one to five. Some 30 to 40 percent of the educators come from foreign countries.
Yungu offers individualized teaching that integrates technology. Leveraging Alibaba’s cutting-edge technology, the school is committed to continuously improving quality based on Big Data and AI analyses.