Hessel Group exporting South Australian early childhood education to China

By David Russell

Early childhood education principles developed in South Australia will soon be taught to children in China through an ambitious program lead by Hessel International.

Hessel International is a division of South Australian early childhood services company The Hessel Group, which operate childcare centres in Gilles Plains, Aldinga Beach, Port Augusta and Port Pirie, as well as a nanny service, training organisation, crèche and disability care service.

Hessel Group Managing Director Tanya Cole told Inside South Australia she had made at least 12 trips to China in the past two-and-a-half years to conduct market research and explore where opportunities lie on the Chinese mainland.

“We visited kindys and government bureaus to observe how things are done and to see what the needs were,” she said. “We talked to families and teachers… our training needs to be designed for them, and we need to make sure it is culturally acceptable.”

Hessel International identified key areas where educators, principals and parents were eager to gain more knowledge and experience, and customised course materials to meet those needs. They have developed a practical course to help staff in kindergartens understand the emotional needs of young children, and have established parenting, infant care and toddler care courses with both theoretical and practical elements to support parents, convalescing mothers, nannies and early learning centres. Hessel will also be offering study tours for teachers and principals to Australia to visit various styles of kindergartens and receive professional development and cultural awareness training.

“We are focussing on workshops and pracs in China, where a lot of training is theory-based,” said Tanya.

“With most of our training we actually go into crèches and kindys… we combine the theory with a lot of practical work. Our research shows that a lot of teachers don’t know why they were doing what they were doing… our focus is on helping develop communication skills and interest in learning.

Due to the previous one child policy, communication issues have become a social problem. Parents and children have not had the opportunity to experience having a sibling or sharing with other children. Our courses have been developed to assist parents, educators and nannies on practical techniques to assist with this emotional and social problem.

“This is a big change for them (the teachers and nannies)… the more people I speak to the more I see the need.”

Hessel International has partnered with Manhao Investments to deliver the programs and has opened a head office In Songjiang, just outside Shanghai, staffed by local Chinese employees. Tanya recently signed an MOU with PKU College, which operates 135 kindergartens in China, to deliver parent and infant care courses to staff. The MOU was signed after Tanya attended the Premier’s Shandong delegation in May.

The Hessel Group is a Brand South Australia member.