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Putri Afzan Maria Zulkifli - MA Development in Global Societies, 2006

Putri Afzan Maria Zulkifli - MA Development in Global Societies, 2006

Putri Afzan Maria Zulkifli - MA Development in Global Societies, 2006

Putri studied MA Development in Global Societies at Leeds Beckett and graduated in 2006. After returning to Malaysia, she now owns and runs a chain of over 40 early childhood education centres called KinderKaizen. Inspired by the Early Years Foundation Stage that Putri experienced in the UK, KinderKaizen use a mixed method approach to teaching based on the Montessori, Reggio Emilia and Waldorf approach.

Putri says “I lived in the UK for almost seven years in total, and three of my children were born there so I was exposed to the education system from babies to Year 1. Back in Malaysia it’s completely different, very young children are forced to read and write just so they meet the requirement of entering Year 1 which requires exams meaning that sometimes the education system tends to ‘spoon-feed’ the students. At Leeds Beckett I learnt about critical thinking and reflective writing which I think is a really valuable skill, and now that I own my own child enrichment centres I instil this in the children. I’ve also started a Play Therapy Course with Leeds Beckett and I’m seeing an increasing number of young children who are stressed which is really worrying. I wanted to change this towards a more child-friendly and child-centred approach so since 2014 I started giving talks to share my experiences and different approach with other parents.”

Before coming to Leeds Beckett, Putri studied Multimedia and Information Technology at the University of Technology Petronas, Malaysia. Her interest in children has led her to create multimedia software and programmes for children. Putri chose Leeds Beckett because she wanted to study the Early Childhood electives that were offered as part of her course. Putri says “I was convinced to enrol on the MA Development in Global Societies due to the modules that were on offer. My experiences studying in the UK at Leeds Beckett helped me to have a wider perspective on many things especially when it involves global matters. Living in the UK has helped me to learn to live in a different system that is more developed and it provided a space for me to reflect on my experience in my own country. I had a great team of classmates and they were all so warm, I’m still in touch with a number of them.”

KinderKaizen started operating in July 2014 with Putri training her own team, from Principals to Playleaders. Putri says “When we first began introducing play-based learning very few people supported it, but we kept on promoting it and carried on our journey. In 2015 we decided to expand KinderKaizen, by the end of 2016 we had 29 branches and we now have 41 branches all over Malaysia. We’re a daily programme with two sessions per day, morning and afternoon. Each session is limited to just 25 children and our programmes include: Creative Engineering, EinScience, Historic History, PlayPhonics and PlayNumeracy. I’ve seen a real culture shift in Malaysia in the last couple of months, many other centres have now started to promote play for children much more heavily and even the Ministry of Education came to visit our centre. Our recent paper and poster presentations in a World Conference of PLAY, IPA2017 in Calgary, Canada have exposed KinderKaizen to the world with around 700 delegates from more than 40 countries. I think there is a crucial need to keep educating young parents, teaching them not to do too much too soon as the number of children suffering from stress is increasing. I used the understanding I gained in my degree to tackle childhood issues related to emotion and wellbeing in children’s lives.”

Putri is obviously dedicated to KinderKaizen and her approach to early years education, and with 41 centres all over Malaysia the hard work is clearly paying off. Putri says “My advice for students and young graduates is very simple: whatever you do, you need to be very focused, consistent and determined. Believe in yourself and the work you do – those who are close to you will be able to see that you’re powered by your passion.”