Our Team

Illse-Jane Wessels – Business Manager

Illse joined Indaba in 2023 as the Business Manager of the Indaba Institute, overseeing HR, Operations and Finance. She is an experienced HR Executive with 20 years of expertise in diverse industries, from multinational corporations to tech startups. She is a registered Chartered HR Professional in South Africa and certified Organisational Design and Development Practitioner from the UK’s Chartered Institute of People Development. Proficient in HR domains like Diversity Equity and Inclusion, B-BBEE, Change Management, and Transformation, with qualifications in BCom HRM and BA Psychology and Economics.

Jennifer Moore – Head of Training

Jennifer has been fully involved in the Montessori world for the past 35 years in Cape Town. During this time, she has made two adventurous overland trips into Africa, visiting some eighteen different countries.

She now finds herself connecting with groups of women who look after children in the disadvantaged and rural communities in South Africa.

Jennifer’s life and work has opened her eyes to the nature of our species and to our indisputable connection to each other. She sees the environment in which we grow up,
both natural and communal, having a profound influence on us and the adult we will become. That this in turn shapes the communities we create and so the cycle is perpetuated. She hopes that by helping adults become aware of human needs and development, small steps towards change can be made.

Nomvelo Lupuzi – Senior Community Liaison Officer

Nomvelo joined the Indaba Institute in 2017 and is currently the Senior Community Liaison Officer. She works with the CoRE facilitators and practitioners, develops processes, and protocols, and manages all CoRE workshop inquiries, practitioner applications, and admissions, to facilitate the best experience for practitioners on the Indaba Institute CoRE Programme. She also provides operational support to the Business Manager.

Inshaaf Manuel – Administrator

Inshaaf joined the Indaba team in 2023 as the Administrator of the Indaba Institute. She is responsible for the front desk reception area and assists the team with admin-related tasks for CoRE and AMI. She also attends to various inquiries from the public and provides administrative support to the Business Manager.

She is currently completing her internship to graduate with a Diploma in Management Assistant.

Xoliswa Bala – CoRE Facilitator

Xoliswa Bala holds a 3-6 Montessori Certificate and has spent over 25 years working at a Montessori school, supporting teachers in the classroom, and teaching the Xhosa language to Primary (Elementary) school children of all ages. She played a central facilitating role in the First Children programme, both in Cape Town and in rural Eastern Cape. She is currently one of the Community Rooted Education (CoRE) facilitators at Indaba Institute for the CoRE  Programme.

Piliswa Baliwe – CoRE Facilitator

Piliswa was first introduced to Montessori in 2004 when she received a job at Auburn House. She then obtained a 3 to 6 Diploma in 2005 and started working in the 3 to 6 environments. From there she moved to 6 to 9 and was also a part time Xhosa teacher. She left Auburn House in 2018 and began working with the Auburn House Trust in the Cape Town and Coffee Bay areas. In 2021 she started working for the Indaba Institute, first as a Facilitator in Training and then as of 2023, as a Facilitator for the CoRE program.

Claire Goffe-Wood – CoRE Facilitator

Claire has worked with toddlers at the Chameleons Montessori School in Durbanville since 1999. In 2014, she attended the AMI 0-3 Certificate course at Indaba Montessori Institute and completed the AMI 0-3 Diploma in 2018. Claire became co-owner of the Montessori School and in 2022 joined the CoRE programme in Klapmuts as a Facilitator in Training. In 2023, she joined the Indaba CoRE team full time as a Facilitator of the CoRE Programme.

Emma Medell – CoRE Facilitator

Emma is a Facilitator, for the CoRE Programme, which is the brainchild of the Indaba Institute. Her experience is working with 3 to 6-year-old children in a Montessori setting, whilst co-running a Montessori school for many years. Her current passion is to share this experience widely through the CoRE Programme.

Colleen Erasmus – CoRE Facilitator

Colleen Erasmus joined the Indaba team as a facilitator in 2024. She started out as an admin assistant but soon her love for children took her on a journey of discovering quality education and making a change. For the past 10 years she has worked with children, of which 6 years has been as a principal for a community preschool. She holds AMI international Montessori diplomas in both 0 to 3 years and 3 to 6 years, as well as a certificate in ECD NQF level 5.

Pru Ramsey – Consultant

Pru obtained a B.A, UED and taught high school Geography and English for ten years. In 1980, she obtained an Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) Diploma in Preprimary Education in California, where she was trained by Dr. Lena Wikramaratne who worked with Dr. Maria Montessori in Sri Lanka during World War 11.  Pru was chairman of the Montessori Society of Southern Africa from 1994 – 1997 and Head of the NQF Early Childhood Development Montessori training at the Sustainability Institute and Learning for Sustainability, Stellenbosch from 1999 – 2016.

Since 2017, she has been the lead facilitator in Early Childhood Development NQF Level 5, at the Indaba Institute. In 2021, Pru introduced the CoRE pilot programme in Kayamandi. She currently mentors the CoRE programme facilitators under the guidance of the AMI ESF CoRE developers.

Theodora Nomakhwezi Lutuli – Consultant

Theodora (Theo) currently runs the Khanyisa Nursery and Inkwenkwezi Educare in Nyanga, Cape Town.

She previously worked in various government departments, corporate and currently involved in a lot of development work in communities. She works closely with a Human Rights organisation (Justice Desk Africa) where she previously served as a Dep. Chairperson of the board.

Theo is currently consulting for Indaba Institute and serves as an executive for UNO (United Networking organisation) for ECD provincially and SAAECD on a National level.

Our Partners

Together with our partners, we are taking strides towards a galvanizing consensus that ECD investment is the most valuable contribution to a healthier, sustainable collective future. We build local agency and sustainability with:

  • The Cape Wine industry – Together, we are pioneering a “Wine Industry Social Compact” to champion industry support for ECD.
  • Community-Based Organisations (CBOs) – Especially social partners with deep roots in Cape Winelands communities.
  • Government and State Agencies, in education, social development, agriculture & health.

The South African wine industry is an enormous asset to the country and its people – as well as to the global tourism market. Unfortunately, history has given the wine industry a heavy burden – fetal alcohol syndrome is one; gender-based violence is another. Deep inequality is pervasive in this region. The organized sector is determined to find solutions.

Indaba Connect

With a significant number of children excluded from quality early childhood development, it is of utmost importance to develop world-class scientifically inspired Montessori research to tackle this challenge. A world-renowned Indaba Foundation ACADEMIC ADVISORY core team has been established to provide guidance and content proposals in scientific research linked to key focus areas in neuroscience, early childhood development, and Montessori education.

Lynedoch Children’s House

The Lynedoch Children’s House (LCH) was established in 2000 by Lynedoch Development (NPC) for 19 children from the Lynedoch Valley. Further developed by the Sustainability Institute, today +-60 children attend the Infant Community (0 –3 years) and Children’s House (3 –6 years).

Association Montessori Internationale

AMI functions as a social movement that strives to promote the rights of the child throughout the world, irrespective of race, religion, political, and social beliefs. It works in cooperation with other bodies and organizations, such as the II, that further the development of education, human rights, and peace.

The Sustainability Institute

We have partnered with the Sustainability Institute to house the globally and locally accredited full-time AMI Training Center, the Indaba Institute. The SI, a non-profit trust, founded in 1999 focuses on learning for sustainable African futures. The Institute is based in Stellenbosch, South Africa, and has provided development facilitation to create a child-centred approach to building sustainable communities in Africa.

The Indaba Foundation

The Indaba Foundation (IF) is the II’s largest funding partner. The IF aims to improve young children’s capacity to develop and learn by providing world-class, internationally-recognized, and accredited Montessori teacher training, learning materials, and educational infrastructure.

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