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The Noluthando Sheltered Employment Trust (NSET) PROTECTIVE WORKSHOP was officially opened on 28 October 2021 at the Noluthando School for the Deaf & Autistic in Khayelitsha. Enabled by funding from The Ackerman Family Educational Trust and Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages, the renovated and refurbished building will provide a safe and well-equipped facility to enable sheltered employment opportunities for skilled Noluthando students, as well as people with a disability from the greater Khayelitsha community.

The Noluthando school was originally founded to provided tuition to learners with hearing impairments. It was soon realised that while technical developments were enabling many learners to hear, the school would need specialised classroom facilities and tuition for children with autism.

In 2008 the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) Inclusive and Specialised Education Needs Directorate approached the Rotary Club of Newlands (RCN) to design, plan, obtain funding and construct classrooms for autistic leaners to support the increased demand for enrolment at this specialised institution.  

Since then, nineteen classrooms have been built or refurbished at the campus, including the construction of a new Treatment Assessment Centre. The Ackerman Family Educational Trust, Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages and other corporates, foundations and individuals have contributed to these projects.

The NSET project arose when Wendy Ackerman approached RCN in November 2020 to explore whether a sheltered employment facility could be established at Noluthando. Support for this came from far and wide, including the headmaster of Noluthando School, Ayanda Ncinane, the school governing body, the landowner, and the WCED. 

“The Ackerman Family Educational Trust is very pleased that this project has gotten off the ground so quickly and the Sheltered Employment Workshop is about to officially open.  We are looking forward to training these young people and we hope that in the not-too-distant future some of them will join the workforce,” says Mrs Ackerman.

As part of the school's expansion, Noluthando made a large building on their grounds available for refurbishment. The architectural work and project management were provided by RCN (architect Graham Finlayson) and “the MAAK”, and construction was completed in October 2021 with AB Contractors as the lead provider. Funding was provided by the Ackerman Family Educational Trust and Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages (CCPB).

"This is third project that CCPB has supported at the Noluthando School in the past four years. This includes co-funding of the Treatment Assessment Centre in 2018 and the building of six additional classroom in 2019. CCPB’s purpose in communities we operate in, is to make a difference that matters. We are privileged to be able to do this through our partnership with Rotary Club Newlands and humbled to be part of the legacy of the Noluthando School, filling a critical need within this community,” says Priscilla Urquhart, Public Affairs and Communications Manager for CCPB. 

“People with a disability often face barriers to education. Finding work once they finish their education is almost impossible. A facility like NSET can provide students with the opportunity to learn and grow and eventually fully participate in society,” Urquhart added.

Under the guidance of CEO, Arthur Cowley, the NSET will evaluate the initial beneficiaries (who will be drawn from the Noluthando Autism Centre) and ascertaining the skills set with which to match the types of work that would be possible and meaningful.

“The coming together of all these different parties and the initiative of Wendy Ackerman to get ‘the ball rolling’ is extraordinary. In such a short time this new entity has been established with energy and commitment around the common purpose of materially improving the lives of the beneficiaries,” says RCN’s John Winship.


Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages (CCPB) is the local bottler and distributor of The Coca-Cola Company in the Western and Northern Cape. Products and brands include Coca-Cola, Sprite, Fanta, Stoney, Appletiser, Powerade, Bonaqua, PowerPlay and Monster amongst others.


CCPB has been operational for 80 years, having first opened for business in 1940. Their state- of-the-art bottling facility is based in Parow Industria, with distribution centres in Athlone, Paarl, Hermanus, Worcester, Vredendal and Springbok. 



Founder & TRUSTEE

Mrs. Ackerman`s passion for enabling the disabled is truly phenomenal and together with the Newlands Rotary Club has helped establish a special school for autistic children in Cape Town’s townships.  The school started with 28 students and now has well over 100 with a long waiting list. Not satisfied with this effort, Wendy is now involved in setting up a related job creation centre – Noluthando Sheltered Employment Workshop - adjacent to the school. This allows those who have come through the school to access job opportunities in fields as diverse as carpentry, gardening, sewing, and weaving.

Arthur Cowley


Arthur Cowley - a Chief Education Specialist with the Western Cape Department of Education for over 36 years. His life-long passion, championing the causes of the voiceless, the disadvantaged and differently abled, has taken him into many different communities and industry sectors. He is currently CEO (Marketing and Fundraising) of the Noluthando Sheltered Employment Trust where he assists in the management of sheltered employment workshops for Autistic young adults.


Van Wyk 


Andrea  has worked in the disability sector for 15 years. She spent 9 years as the Creative Director/Facilitator and 6 years as the Director of an organisation which catered to the needs of learners with intellectual disabilities. The organisation focused on providing a variety of skills in crafts to learners. Included in the various business skills courses she completed was the learnership in Craft Operations Management with the Cape Craft and Design Institute. Her interest in disability studies led to the completion of the Adults on the Autism Spectrum course through Western Cape Forum for Intellectual Disability and the Disability Inclusion in Education: Building Systems of Support course through Coursera. This course was developed by the University of Cape Town as part of the project ‘Strengthening teaching for Children with profound Hearing, Visual and Intellectual Disabilities in South Africa’ co-funded by Christoffel-Blinden Mission (CBM) and the European Union.

Ayanda Alfred Ncinane


Coaching the coaches and Leading the Leaders




Wendy Ackerman


Judith Maria Coetzee


Arthur Noel Clive Cowley


Khayakazi Mdunyelwa


Ayanda Alfred Ncinane

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