Tuition still on demand, but other types of classes hit

Non-academic enrichment classes may be experiencing a slowdown in enrolments but companies offering academic classes, such as PSLE tutoring, remain resilient.

Ms Chan Huang Yee, executive director of I Can Read, a chain of English reading enrichment centres, said enrolment has been slower in the last two months, falling 10 per cent compared with last year.

She said the slowdown could be due to parents withdrawing students as the year comes to a close.

But she also expects the economic downturn to affect business.

"New customers will be reluctant to make the commitment.

While parents tend to leave any spending cuts on their child's education as the last option, a prolonged downturn will see even current customers cutting back on their spending," she said.

Ms Fiona Walker, group managing director of Julia Gabriel Education which offers speech and drama classes, has seen shifts in the company's enrolment over the last 12 months.

She said: "We have noticed a trend of parents wanting to see both clear links to academic outcomes, as well as being drawn to shorter, taster programmes."

Mrs Lindy Koh-Teo, operations manager of swimming school Aqua Ducks, said that growth has been slower this year.

In the 2008 financial crisis, she slashed prices and was able to retain customer loyalty.

She may not do the same now though as the firm is much bigger.

However, tuition appears to be most able to weather economic downturns.

Mr Max Tan, director of True Learning Centre, said that his three tuition centres have seen a "marked increase" in enrolments.

"For the PSLE classes, there's definitely an increase.

No matter how bad the economy is, children's education is still one of the priorities."

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This article was first published on Oct 12, 2016.
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