Leading into one of the preschool classrooms by the Managing Director of Eduwis Sdn. Bhd., Simon Tee and Executive Director of Eduwis Sdn. Bhd, Amanda Tan, what greets you are smiles and laughter by a bunch of 4-year-old children that are heart-warming. The next thing you would see, these children lined up with handmade musical instruments, with another child on the piano, happily presenting the famous nursery rhyme “Old Macdonald Had A Farm”.
Looking at the children’s level of confidence, initiative, sociability, and teamwork with their friends, it can be assured that the Eduwis preschool program is successful, let alone any explanation of the program by Simon and Amanda.
Amanda stresses that educating children comes with a big responsibility. Other than putting a lot of effort in developing the program for young children, she focuses in teacher’s training as she believes that without dedicated and skilled teachers, even the best program is not effective for a child’s development and learning. Therefore, Eduwis insists to have teacher’s training on a monthly basis which is mandatory for all the principals and teachers.
Eduwis’ mission is to provide an effective, professional and high quality early childhood education program does not only benefit the children in the city, but also in rural and semi-rural areas. With more than 26 years of experience in early childhood education, the couple hopes that the Eduwis program can benefit more children which then would lead them to license the business program.
Eduwis was founded in year 1987 when Simon and Amanda were looking for a suitable preschool for their first child. They disagreed with most of the kindergartens which applied the “spoon-feeding” concept. At that time, Amanda was an early childhood education teacher in a neighbourhood kindergarten and Simon was managing a small business. In conjunction to realise Amanda’s childhood dream to start a kindergarten business and the failure in searching for an appropriate school for their child, the idea of starting their own preschool centre blossomed.
In the early stage of starting an early childhood education business, Amanda did a lot of research in determining the direction, content and various supporting activities of the early childhood education. She studied in-depth on both the domestic and foreign early childhood education concepts, carefully compiled and developed the ‘Eduwis Thematic Integrated Learning Activities’ program that she believed could enhance young children’s mental and physical development as well as unleash children’s various learning potential. On the other hand, Simon is responsible for the company’s management and finance. The couple’s close cooperation throughout the years has built a strong foundation for the company.
The Eduwis program has intergrated 8 different educationists’ theories and philosophies, namely Confucius, Reggio Emilia, Maria Montessori, Lev Vygotsky, Shinichi Suzuki, Erik Erikson, Howard Gardner and Jean Piaget. The program integrates all the subjects by theme which is proved to be more effective to learning. Eduwis aimed to be a one-stop early childhood education centre where children guage in extensive knowledge, for instance, languages, early science, piano and theory, project based learning, problem solving skills, appropriate behaviours, among others.
To make sure the children fully make use of the knowledge they have learned, Amanda has implemented 12 different annual activities, for examples, sports day, story telling and puppet show presentation, singing and music percussion presentation, drawing competition and so on, for the children to perform themselves. These annual activities also serve as an assessment and evaluation platform on the children’s learning process and progress. Morever, some of these activities require parents’ participation. Therefore, the Eduwis program keeps an intimate relationship with the children, teachers as well as parents.
Amanda claims that in Eduwis, a balanced growth – academically, mentally and physically – for young children is important. Eduwis is a place where it is child-centered with teachers as facilitator and parents to assist. In fact, they want parents’ participation as much as possible because they spend a relatively long time with the children outside the school. With this, Amanda has also designed a series of parenting programs for Eduwis’ parents annually.
The company’s entrepreneur success is nonetheless the effectiveness of the crucial skills transferred to the franchisees, for example, the management skills and teaching skills. The company has also set up a supervision team as early as the licensing business started, to oversee the quality of each franchisees and assist them in every area of the business. The couple understands that the success of the franchisees contribute to the success of Eduwis. Therefore, every now and then, Eduwis reinforces entrepreneurial training for potential investors or teachers to start up their own early childhood education franchise business. This is in line with Eduwis’ corporate culture which promotes “on-going learning, on- going creating, and on-going developing”. A prepared mindset to become an entrepreneur such as being creative, innovative and flexible can lead to a sustainable business.
Currently Eduwis has majority of women and youngsters as franchisees as both Simon and Amanda strongly encourage women and young entrepreneurship. They support youngsters and women to take up the commitment and responsibility to start up their own franchise business in early childhood education. As part of corporate social responsibility, Eduwis has facilitated government loans to provide financial assistance for single- mothers to start an Eduwis preschool centre. To make sure these single-mothers succeed in their career, the couple has put in way more effort in guiding them throughout their businesses. Simon claims that every effort invested in assisting these franchisees to become sucessful will be worthwhile in the long run for the company.
As of mid-year 2014, Eduwis has 28 franchisees in Peninsular Malaysia. With the strong foundation laid in the company, Simon and Amanda have full confidence that Eduwis is going to expand exponentially in the next few years locally and abroad.