The day started off with Nomvelo, Hombakazi & Primadonna sharing a song with participants before everyone headed off for community work. The morning session began with a presentation by Andre Shearer, Alain Tschudin and Alaistair Green.

Originally created as an scholarship foundation, Indaba has focused on the devastating affects of foetal alcohol syndrome, which is highly prevalent in the Western Cape. Children who are affected by FAS face many challenges and educators need to think of ways to reach these children and offer them the opportunities that every child is deserving of. Andre believes that the biggest return investment is in education, with focus needing to be given to the importance of early childhood education. By tackling education from the youngest age, a change can be made for the better. He noted that the influence of a Montessori education not only affects the child but also the family as a whole. Andre highlighted the core components of the IMI which are training, outreach, advocacy and research. He noted that there is a gap in the system when it comes to training as many teachers find it difficult to spend lengthy time in full training and perhaps a solution would be more certification courses in order to get teachers trained to be effective in their communities, with an option of a diploma course later on in time. He stated that when it comes to training, the impact of trauma on ECD trainers needs to be taken into consideration. Teachers should be trained to understand and deal with not only their own trauma but also that of their own students, families and communities. He then introduced the Indaba Montessori Institution’ s partners: AMI, Sustainability Institutute, Cape Classics and Good Governance Africa. Andre then handed over to Dr Alain Tshifudi who showed a video introduction to the GGA.  

Alain spoke of the various GGA programs, Child Development & Youth Foundation; Local Governance; National Security; Natural Resources and Ethical Values and Spirituality. He gave an example of how lives of children were transformed through Montessori, specifically the Mbizana project and the positive changes that have taken place for children and families, in part due to having trained adults in the environment. 

Alaistair Green then gave a brief introduction to Newberry House, a Montessori school catering for children between 18months and 18 years of age. The school is located on one of the largest privately owned farms, Lourensford Wine Estate. Alastair described Newberry House as a platform to showcase the best practice all around, through a proper Montessori environment. Newberry House aim to be the first AMI run school in the country. Alastair concluded with the question of how do we prepare children for the future? His answer to that question was through a pure Montessori environment executed properly.

In the afternoon session, Naledi Mabeba from Lynedoch Montessori House gave a brief introduction of herself and the difficulties she faced when first working with the children in the Western Cape. When Naledi first came to Lynedoch, she realized the harrowing effects that F.A.S. had on the children. Naledi explained the Dop System in which wine farmers would give workers wine as a form of payment. This resulted in alcohol dependency and mothers consuming alcohol during pregnancy. Although the Dop System has since been outlawed, in many ways it is still in practice and the effects of F.A.S. still run rampant. Upon gaining an understanding of the difficulties faced by the F.A.S. child, she began to encourage adults to think out of the box for ways to reach these children and offer them the opportunity to reach their potential. Naledi noted that racial difficulties, ranging from discriminations between different cultures and languages could be addressed through grace and courtesy, getting children to understand and be accepting of others and embracing their differences. Another challenge was violence. Children had to be taught that no form of violence, even when displayed through play, is every accepted. Naledi stressed the importance of providing an environment that is consistently safe, peaceful and stable whilst the child is at school makes a difference in that child’s life. Although the teacher cannot control what the child is exposed to at home, they can ensure that the child always has a safe and consistent environment to return to at the children’s house. Naledi encourages others to work with the situations they are presented with and to be accepting of those situations. She stresses that in order for a Montessori program to be effective, it needs to be an authentic, pure Montessori approach in order for it to be of benefit to the child.

Bukelwa Selema, director of the Zama Montessori centre shared her experiences and personal evolution. She started off by saying that she grew up and was schooled in the early 1950’s where South Africa was under intense apartheid and the Bantu education system was enforced. Through her journey and personal evolution, she began to see that there was a problem where youngsters who are being taught by teachers who grew up with Bantu education or who have been immersed in the Bantu education system. Bukelwa believes that teachers need ongoing support once trained in order to be successful. She stated that there are two types of poverty, that of the rural areas and that of the urban areas. Bukelwa stresses the importance of observation as a great tool for education and encouraged participants to go out and observe as many Montessori environments as possible. She says the biggest challenge is finding the right person for the environment. In South Africa this is largely due to people being in a perpetual state of P.T.S.D. from the affects of apartheid which Bukelwa says affects all South Africans regardless of culture or race. Only once the wounds of the past have begun to heal can change take place. Bukelwa is adamant that this healing and change can begin through getting Montessori out to the public and accessible to all. This work needs to be done in collaboration with educateurs, parents, families and communities. She concluded her presentation with a beautiful poem read to the assembly.

After a tea break, feedback from the daily reading session and discussion was given back before participants headed off for a yoga class before dinner. One of the statements raised was that of Ubuntu: I am because you are. A person is a person with other people, a statement made by Bishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.