Kinderland is one of the most trusted names of preschool education provider in Malaysia. Kiddy123 recently interviewed the company’s Executive Director, Mr. Arthur Ng Cheong Chye to explore more of this highly esteemed school’s mission, vision and objectives in providing top-notch Early Childhood Education.
Can you share a little on the history and background of Kinderland?
Kinderland is a Preschool and Childcare registered brand name of Crestar Education Malaysia Sdn. Bhd where it was officially set up in Malaysia since 2002.
However, in terms of Kinderland’s history, it goes back to the year 1978 in Singapore, where Kinderland first started its operation. Over the span of 36 years, we have grown into a regional set up, where we have centres established in South East Asia countries such as China, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Malaysia with Head Office based in Singapore.
Currently, we have a total of 45 centres in Singapore, 23 centres in Malaysia, 18 centres in Indonesia and 1 centre in Bangladesh. Right now, China has the highest number of centres in the region with a total of 35 centres and the number is still growing rapidly.
By the way, we have only one centre in Bangladesh because this centre was set up by a medical doctor whose children were with Kinderland when he worked as an expatriate in Singapore. After returning to his homeland, the medical Doctor was so convinced of Kinderland Pre-school and Childcare programmes that he decided to set up one in hiscountry.
What is Kinderland’s vision when it comes to Early Childhood Education?
Kinderland’s vision is to be a regional leader in Early Childhood Education.
Kinderland’s Preschool Education derives in these 2 aspects. First, is the Preschool Education which is for children age 5 to 6 and second aspect is the Infant and Childcare Services for children as young as 3 months to 4 years old.
For each of this aspect, there are specific educational programmes and syllabuses because we are aware and understand children in different age groups have different learning curves.
Our requirements for our teachers are high; we ensure that we only hire childcare minder with Basic Childcare Certificate and educators who have a formal education in Early Childhood Education. These educators are either Diploma or Degree holders of the said major and had experienced and training in not only Early Childhood Education, but also in other aspects such as Special Needs Education, English Communication skills as well as Basic Childcare Training.
It is an interesting fact to know that out of the 60,000 or more kindergarten teachers in Malaysia, approximately 70% of them have no formal Early Childhood Education training. This can be harmful to the kids’ learning experience because untrained teachers will not have the right skills in handling young children. Therefore, this could have various side effects in terms of the children’s development, learning ability and social skills.
Many of our teachers are graduated from DIKA College, which is also a subsidiary of Crestar Education Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. This is the first and only specialist college in Malaysia that offers Diplomas and credit transferred Degrees in Early Childhoodand Special Needs Education. This college was set up in year 2004 and we provide top-notch education and training for those who are interested in Early Childhood Education.
As mentioned, the government is aware that majority of the kindergartens’ teachers are not professionally trained. That is why DIKA College is established with the objective to promote Early Childhood professions in the country.
The Ministry of Education aims that in the year 2020, all kindergarten teachers need to hold a Diploma or Degree in Early Childhood Education. Therefore, the Ministry is making it as one of their objectives to establish Early Childhood Education as a professional field.
It is for this reason, Kinderland carefully selects our educators who have either Diploma or Degree in the field in order to deliver and provide the best education for young children.
I see. Have you always been involved in Early Childhood Education?
I have to confess that I wasn’t trained as an Early Childhood Educator as I was from the Science background.
However, I got exposure in the Early Childhood Education due to my work experiences as a management staff in Yamaha Music Malaysia. I started with Yamaha Music Malaysia during my early twenties and even though I didn’t study Early Childhood Education but I had the opportunity to work very closely with children who were attending the music classes.
From there, I noticed the difference between children who started Music classes at an early age compare to the children who joined the Music school at an older age. This great significance sparked my interest and passion in learning more about Early Childhood Education.
What was the most significant thing that you learned about Early Childhood Education when you were with Yamaha Music Malaysia?
There was a sensitive period in the children’s learning. Children in their early years tend to learn better.
During my time with Yamaha Music Malaysia, there was a study done by the company where we proved that kids learn most when they are between the ages of 4 to 6. We call this, the “Formidable Age” or the “Golden Age of Learning.”
This is when kids literally absorb everything around them. So, it is crucial for the children of this age to be surrounded by things that are beneficial to them when they grow up
So, this has proven the importance of Early Childhood Education.
What sets Kinderland apart from other pre-schools?
Unfortunately, this is one of those simple questions yet do not have a simple answer. Generally, when parents look for a pre-school, they tend to focus on the image and brand of those establishments. Not many parents will focus on what the school has to offer in terms of developmental appropriate programmes and children lifelong learning outcome.
In Kinderland we have specific programmes that is tailor-made for children at different age groups. Even for childcare services we have detailed and organized structure of the educational programmes for the children. We also emphasize on other aspects such as safety, health, hygiene and nutrition during the teachers training to ensure our educators have a clear understanding of our mission and vision.
Besides that, we are the first who incorporated Keyboard Music Programmes as part of the creative learning for our pre-school children and Kinderland Singapore is also the first who introduced the Pre-School Marching Band in the region.
So, when you asked about what sets Kinderland apart from other pre-schools, for me it is not just a question on what we have to offer the children, but most importantly is how we are delivering the things that we have to offer.
A good pre-school is not about having impressive myriads of programmes, but it is about cultivating the passion and love for lifelong learning in our children. This is what Kinderland is about and I believe this is what we are good at.
Thank for that eye-opening answer. You mentioned that you are not Early Childhood Education trained but it was your interest and passion that got you started in this. What are the challenges you face as an Early Childhood Education Company Director?
Every child is unique. This requires experience and knowledge in order to handle situations effectively.
Besides that, the rapid change in technology has been one of our biggest challenges, as it requires us to adopt and incorporate technology in our education system and programmes. We would want our children to be able to cope with technology and other aspects of development simultaneously. Also, children of this age have greater learning curve compared to children of decades ago.
This has challenged us to step up and be the right educators for modern children. It is an interesting challenge for Kinderland and we are very happy to accept it.
Despite of more than 35 years establishment, we are still learning and take mistakes as part of learning to develop and make us a better Early Childhood Education Provider.
Finally, what is your advice for those who are interested in Early Childhood Education? And what is your advice or tips for those who would like to venture into the business?
I understand many people are able to see how lucrative Early Childhood Education can be. However, because you are dealing with children who are at the tender age of learning, you need to be able to understand what Early Childhood Education is and the requirement in establishing an Early Childhood Education centre.
Firstly, you need to equip yourself with the right education and training. Second, to be ready to face unexpected challenges and lastly need to understand Early Childhood Education from the business point of view.
If you are interested in franchised establishments, then you will need to know what are the things will be provided such as the brand, recognition and supports. However, expectations have to be met by maintaining and running the centre successfully.
There are many establishments, for Kinderland we include consultancy services for those who are interested to work with us. We will guide and help you in every possible way which is required for you to manage a successful centre.
So, for those who are interested to venture in the Early Childhood Education business, one of the good way is to join a franchised establishment.
With this, you don’t have much to worry about in terms of the system since many things are readily available for you. You are also provided with the operating procedures and guidelines, as well as tested and effective curriculum.
Furthermore, there will be a shorter learning curve for you since everything is already laid out. Even if you were to start from scratch, it would take half the time for you to learn compared to if you were to develop your own establishment.
However, for the financial aspect, there are two options. They are private-owned and corporation – owned centres.
Option one is a private-owned centre which can be set up in residential areasthat requires around RM200, 000.This includes set up cost, franchise fee, renovation, materials, equipment and etc. The centre needs to be built based on standard safety guidelines and having child-friendly amenities. The good news is that the government is currently providing grant, tax exemption and other assistance for new operators. For More information, potential operators can always refer to the Ministry of Education.
It takes about 1 to 2 years to breakeven and this is why franchised establishments are able to provide the consultancy service as mentioned earlier and to ensure the business is on the right path. Nonetheless, maintaining the quality of the franchised establishment is the responsibility of the operators.
Lastly, the most important thing to remember when one is interested in being involved in Early Childhood Education is; you will never stop learning.
There is always something new for you to learn throughout the course of your journey to become an early childhood educator as well as center owner. It is important to remember that in order to put things right, you need to know what the right things to do are. For this, you will need to be a person who is willing to learn and constantly look for ways to become a better educator.
Thank you very much for your time and excellent insights on early childhood education.
You’re welcome. It’s been a pleasure.
To view all Kinderland Malaysia centers, please click here