Message from ISMILE Director


Neeltje Sutandjati

Neeltje Sutandjati completed her undergraduate education at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia with degree in Accounting. She later obtained her Masters degree in Early Childhood Education in the United States of America.

Always a hands-on mother, Neeltje has been an ardent believer of teaching and working closely with children as early as their infancy. She is convinced that a child's golden age of learning and development takes place within the first six years of a child's life, and thus advocates for parents, caregivers and schools to partner with one another in order to unlock the potential in every child. She passionately says, "look at Reggio Emilia (Italy), the whole city council and families collaborate with educators in developing the programs for their preschools and kindergartens. In fact, more than half of the city's budget for education is allocated to early childhood alone, and its research efforts on early childhood education have been ongoing since post World War II- surely this sums up the importance of investing in quality early childhood education!"

In 2003, she discovered her passion in teaching when together with Supiani, they began the Joshua Generation Kids Church which to today continues to provide year-round quality Sunday school education for children while also providing training opportunities for all children-oriented church workers in Indonesia.

Running the Joshua Generation Kids Church implanted a sense of urgency in Neeltje and Supiani to provide an early childhood center where children excel holistically, and are molded and instilled with life-long values. Hence, in September 2007, ISMILE at the Belezza, South Jakarta began its operations.

Today, together with ISMILE team, she tirelessly devotes herself to the comprehensive continous improvement of all ISMILE centres. Her daily routine consists of her visiting each centre, going round the classrooms, and monitoring the teacher-student dynamics in order ensure teaching excellence from all her teachers. In spite of this, she is still actively involved in helping churches with their children ministry, supporting free education for underprivileged children, and providing free training for Early Childhood teachers from provinces where professional development is lacking. Recently, she started a second-tier school called ISHINE "because every child deserves to shine and to have access to affordable quality schools in their neighborhoods. In this way, we can partner with more and more families to raise their children with 21st century skills, and most importantly, character".

Neeltje's quest to ensure that quality education is available to all children hasn't been diminished. She remains true to her vow to make Indonesia a better place not just for the privileged few but also for the marginalized members of society as well.