March 22, 2005
Singapore's stock market-listed Popular Holdings Limited has recently established Popular Kids Educational Organization with the aim of improving the quality of English education in Taiwan's after-school "bushiban" education market.
Popular plans to open thirty English schools in Taiwan by the end of the year and expects to be operating 100 of these bushibans here within three years. Next year, it will start opening English schools in China.
A Ministry of Education survey reveals that over half of Taiwan's 4 million elementary school students attend some type of bushiban. Conservative estimates place the percentage of elementary school students in English bushibans at no less than 40%. With monthly tuition averaging NTD 2,000 per month, the English bushiban market generates NTD 40 billion in business revenues annually.
Popular executives point out that the MOE is currently promoting English proficiency testing for all Taiwanese citizens, meaning that, in addition to students, working adults may also need to attend English schools in order to boost their English language skills. It therefore sees great business potential in the English education market.
Popular Holdings Limited heads 45 subsidiaries and has branched out from Singapore to Taiwan, Malaysia, Hongkong and China. Its operations span such businesses as publishing, Internet education, distribution, bookstores and English schools. In 2004, it achieved annual revenues equivalent to nearly NTD 10 billion.
(United Daily News)