By Tan Jee Yee April 3, 2020
Digital News Asia
- BAC Education’s BACFlix.com free online classes saw 65,773 new students in March alone
- Overall, online education and education tech companies stand to benefit during this period
Pandemics are big threats to various industries, but there are inevitably some that benefit from the fallout. COVID-19 has already taken its fair share of industrial victims – the cinema and theatre industry, for instance, are left in shambles over the various lockdowns across the world.
But where theatre seats are empty, home couches are filled with gamers – US telco Verizon, for instance, reported an “unprecedented” 75% rise in gaming traffic in the space of a week.
Just as schools and universities shutter their physical classrooms, the online education sector is seeing a boom. As reported by South China Morning Post, online education and educational technology companies could be among the biggest beneficiaries of the COVID-19 pandemic, as students are expected to learn from home, perhaps even after the pandemic subsides.
In China, where the online education sector was expected to grow 12.3% to US$61.5 billion this year – the sudden epidemic, however, is accelerating the process by shifting students online. Data analytic platform Qimai.cn found that educational apps are now the second-fastest growing apps as measured by Chinese users since early February.
Malaysia too is seeing some signs of that growth. BACflix.com, an online learning initiative that is fully funded by BAC Education Group, is currently seeing high numbers of subscribers during the COVID-19 Movement Control Order (MCO) period in the country. So high, in fact, that the graph lines are close to vertical (see chart).
According to BAC managing director Raja Singham, the group’s online learning programmes saw 65,773 new sign ups in March 2020 alone. To get into specifics, SPMflix.com (which covers SPM subjects) and PT3flix.com (covering Form 1 to 3 subjects) saw 11,077 and 11,475 new registrations respectively.
In addition to that, the UPSRflix.com (for Malaysian primary school subjects) and IGSCEflix.com (for Cambridge IGCSE subjects) programmes saw 10,792 and 835 new sign ups. SJKCflix.com, which offer courses for Chinese vernacular subjects, saw the most number of new students – 30,047 of them. SJKTflix.com (for Tamil vernacular subjects) received 1,547 new sign ups.
This places BACflix.com’s total students at 120,531, with SPMflix.com getting the most registrants at 44,690 students.
No student left behind
BACflix’s online learning programmes are offered for free, where students get access to over 4,000 videos and revision notes for 10 core subjects in the country’s PT3 and SPM subjects in Bahasa Malaysia and English languages, as well as materials for vernacular schools.
For the MCO period, BACflix.com is even offering online classes conducted over video conference (via Zoom) from 1 April to 14 April for its SPMflix.com and PT3flix.com programmes.
When asked if they’re surprised by the sudden rise in students, Raja says, “I’m not surprised at all. In light of the MCO as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is greater demand for free online tuition to help students continue their studies without their academic progress being disrupted,” he tells DNA (Digital New Asia).
And, it’s not going to stop here as well with the BAC Education Group foreseeing higher numbers in April as well. Considering the over 65,000 new sign-ups in March alone, Raja foresees more than 300,000 students enrolling by the end of April.
“The pandemic has changed the world and its repercussions will be felt for months or even an entire year. Even after the MCO is lifted, parents will be cautious about sending their children to school so we are prepared to continue these live classes online to help those who choose to stay home,” he adds.
BAC is ready for the influx of students. According to Raja, once the MCO implementation was announced, the group upgraded their server capacity and invested in the latest technology infrastructure.
Having invested RM9 million in total into the platform and content since 2016, Raja stresses, “We are prepared to invest whatever is necessary to ensure that education remains accessible to everyone. As educators that is our duty.”
At the same time, he adds: “We are continuing to conduct training sessions for our teachers on this platform to ensure they are able to be effective in the delivery of online and distance learning programmes. We have a fully-fledged IT support team in place to troubleshoot any issues and to ensure that no Malaysian student is left behind. We are here to help, and we will do whatever we can to ensure that education is accessible to every Malaysian.”