Our award-winning Ikhaya Labantwana Montessori (ILM) Early Learning Centre is the first of its kind in our area. It offers quality Montessori education to kickstart children’s learning at an early stage that commonly is a gap in their development. By filling this void, associated with traditional parenting practices, we want to break the cycle of poverty.

What we do

Ikhaya Labantwana Montessori (ILM) started in 2011 with just 15 children in traditional housing. Due to an enormous waiting list and a lack of space, we have built our very own Early Learning Centre with funding from the National Development Agency for up to 60 children.

Each child receives two nutritious meals per day. Veggies that are grown in our school garden are used as part of the children’s meals.

The Montessori method promotes the development of the whole child (physically, intellectually, emotionally, socially and spiritually), while a sense of responsibility is being fostered in the child, as our environment is based on freedom within limits.

Montessori Traditional
Child chooses materials Teacher sets curriculum
Child sets own pace Teacher sets pace
Child is free to discover on his own Teacher instructs child
Emphasis is on the concrete Emphasis is on the abstract
Reality based role-play Fantasy based role-play
Specific placement of materials, helps refine child’s natural sense of order Random placement of materials hinders development of this sense of order
Child centred learning environment Curriculum centred environment
Child provides own stimulus to learning Teacher provides stimuli to learning
Self-education through self correcting materials Teacher is the main control of error
Recognition of sensitive periods All children treated alike
Multi-sensory materials to develop specific skills Play materials for non-specific skills
Liberty to move freely, self and furniture Rigid rules not to move furniture and to sit in designated places
Liberty to speak (quietly so as not to disturb others) Silence is on many occasions forced
Teacher guides child to think for himself and make sound decisions.  Responsibility for decisions made is encouraged Children not thought of as capable of making decisions and are expected to follow teacher unquestioningly
Disorderly conduct in class is regarded as the teacher’s fault;  she seeks it out and corrects it Children are punished for disorderly behaviour, even if the fault lies with the teacher’s incapabilities
Child learning at ILM
Child learning at ILM | © Isabelle Fabre

What we’ve achieved so far

From our humble beginnings, we’re proud of how far we’ve come, proving dreams can come true! Some highlights:

  • From 15 to 60 children with funding for our purpose-built Early Learning Centre provided by the National Development Agency in 2013;
  • Voted Eastern Cape ECD Centre of the Year in 2014.
  • Trained seven local ladies as qualified Montessori Directresses with funding and support from MCSA, Auburn House, Stichting Obonto and SAMA.
Original ILM rondavel
ILM’s original rondavel | © green-trotter.fr
New ILM building
The new ILM building

We still want to…

We have come far, but there is much more we’d love to do:

  • Set up and support playgroups in each village for caregivers and their children aged 0-3 years;
  • Offer after school and holiday programmes;
  • Support small pre-schools and Grade R classes with learning materials and curriculum content;
  • Develop a Montessori network of support in the area to share ideas, challenges and solutions.

If you are willing and able to support us, please do get in touch or donate.

Why we do what we do

Child carrying firewood
A local child carrying firewood | © Mica Wright

Coffee Bay in the Eastern Cape, is one of the poorest provinces in South Africa (Source: Dept. of Social Development):

  • 93.1% do not complete their secondary education;
  • 50% do not have access to early education programmes
  • 73.1% have no formal sanitation services;
  • 16.6% live without any form of income;
  • 38.3% of the economically active population is unemployed.

Find out more about the Coffee Bay area.

By supporting children and their parents to understand the importance of early childhood education, we create a stronger foundation for the next generation. Access to an early education program is proven to increase the chances of completing formal schooling and leads to improved employment opportunities.

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