Artificial Intelligence ‘squirrels’ it’s way into international after-school tuition market

Squirrel AI Learning is a Chinese after-school tuition provider that utilizes Artificial Intelligence to provide content personalized to the needs of the student.

In two years, they plan to expand into foreign markets by offering content in English for Maths and Mandarin. There is a high demand from foreigners to learn Mandarin, which has prompted the founders to add the language among their offerings.

Founded in 2014, Squirrel is one of China’s EdTech Unicorns. Squirrel AI Learning is part of Yixue Group and is located in Shangai. The company valued at one-point-one billion USD has so far raised one hundred and fifty million USD.

The company explains that it is named after the Squirrel, which is known for “agility, diligence, and management” and this aligns entirely with the experience the company wants to provide for its students.

Gaokao – the need for after-school tuition 

Gaokao” is the entrance examination every undergraduate student in China is required to take if they wish to study at the national university.

There is immense pressure on the students to do well in the exam as only a third of the students who take the test are offered a place in the mainland university in China.

It was reported that Chinese students spend more time in after-school tuition than their counterparts anywhere in the world. 

When the students approach Squirrel, they have to undergo an assessment test which helps identify the areas they are weak at. The artificial intelligence which drives the system at Squirrel ensures that the content provided is customized to help the students work more on areas of weakness, thereby using their time optimally.

The company provides classes from elementary school to high school via online classrooms as well as brick-n-mortar centers. This is because there are still many parents who prefer the order in a classroom to children studying by themselves at home. At present, Squirrel AI Learning has two thousand physical centers in China. 

In the five years since their formation, Squirrel has taught over two million students. Nearly fifty-thousand students are enrolled currently with them. The company has over four hundred teachers who develop content for the students.

The founders are hopeful that their system will help students in remote corners of China who do not have access to after-school support to be able to compete with the students in the cities.

Squirrel AI Learning has contributed free lessons worth one-point-five million USD to remote corners of China.

Even though the market for e-learning is crowded, founders of Squirrel AI Learning are optimistic that their adaptive algorithm which identifies the gap in a student’s capabilities in real time and customizes content accordingly will be a unique offering to the foreign markets it hopes to enter.

Earlier this month, another Chinese E-Learning company had acquired majority shareholding of a Victoria-based coaching company with a few to expand their operations in Australia.