New learning curriculum offered in Grand Forks

Grand Forks resident to open Kumon Math and Reading Center

Shafiq Khan is preparing to open a branch of Kumon Math and Reading Center in Grand Forks. (Adam Kurtz/ Grand Forks Herald)

In 1981, Shafiq Khan came to the United States from Bangladesh to get an education; it took time, but he is now working on a doctorate dissertation at UND. Khan is also poised to bring his passion for education to the area’s children by opening a branch of a worldwide educational center in Grand Forks.

Khan will open a Kumon Math and Reading Center at 2424 32nd Ave. S., Suite 102, on Thursday, Jan. 2. Kumon began in Japan in 1958 and grew steadily throughout the world. Data found on the educational company’s website says it has nearly 25,000 educational centers in 57 countries, with more than 4 million students.

“We kind of got fascinated about education, because we came from a different part of the world,” Khan said. “I thought education is the only answer that really fits into an immigrant population, that they can try and do better in American society.”

Khan is nearing completion on a doctorate in educational foundation and research. It wasn’t always like that. He said he had to stop his education for a while because of the cost of college in the United States, but began again, not only for self-fulfillment but to inspire his daughter.


“She got motivated through seeing her parents do this type of thing,” Khan said. “It is very, very important.”

Education has been an important factor in the lives of Khan and his family. His wife, Manna, is working on earning a doctorate as well. Manna co-owns the Kumon Center with Khan. His daughter graduated from UND and is now working on a master’s degree in Norfolk, Va., where she lives. She attended Kumon in California when she was a child.

“She actually found really good results from going to Kumon, because Kumon is not only for the math and reading program, although we focus on those areas, but it also gives self-confidence to the student," he said.

Building confidence is an integral part of the educational philosophy at Kumon. Students can begin math or reading education at the school from as young as 3 years old, practicing concepts such as basic counting, and continue through their teens when they can work on advanced concepts, including calculus. They work at their own pace with an individualized learning plan designed to help students become motivated and self-reliant.

“She enjoyed it very much, and she’s a really confident person,” said Khan about his daughter’s experience at Kumon.

Students complete a placement test that determines their “comfort level.” Lessons begin from that comfort level and progress from there.

“As a result of that… kids feel great when they are doing these worksheets,” Khan said. “They feel great because they are accomplishing something.”

Lessons at Kumon consist of two 30-minute sessions per week. A class can have around 40 students. The school can accommodate about 400 students at capacity, Khan said.


Kumon is a school, but it is also a franchise business, one that Khan said gives him a “double satisfaction.”

“I wanted to have two benefits out of this,” he said. “One is I am doing something for society. Another thing is financial benefit, like every business has a financial benefit .... I thought this is a very, very clean concept as a business, and, for that reason, I was motivated to get involved with this.”

The Grand Forks location of Kumon was not the first in the state, but, after it opens, it will be the only one. Minnesota has nearly 20 locations.

“The only other Kumon Center to ever operate in the state was in Fargo, which has been shut down since 2011,” wrote Betsy Louda, a public relations specialist for Kumon, in an email to the Herald.

Khan said he is already meeting with parents to discuss enrollment at Kumon. He is waiving registration fees, usually $50, until Feb 20.

Khan said life is full of decisions, and Kumon can provide a child with a good foundation to make those decisions.

“If you are not critically thinking well, and if you don't have that confidence, it is going to be very hard to make those decisions,” he said.

Adam Kurtz is the community editor for the Grand Forks Herald. He covers higher education and other topics in Grand Forks County and the city.

Kurtz joined the Herald in July 2019. He covered business and county government topics before covering higher education and some military topics.

Tips and story ideas are welcome. Get in touch with him at, or DM at @ByAdamKurtz.

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