Thanda Community Centre in Mtwalume (Kwa-Zulu Natal)

Play Box Postings: 4th Issue


Growing neighbourhood learning. Strengthening learning across a rural district.


Photograph by Rogan Ward (Zero2Five)


Thanda sets out to enable children in rural communities to develop their full potential by discovering and harnessing their own agency through creative and playful learning. Thanda Community Centre has been using Play Box for learning through play since it was established in 2008.


The Thanda Community Centre is situated on a hill with an excellent perspective of near and far villages dotted across the green hilly terrain of rural southern KwaZulu Natal. The centre’s pitch provides the perfect spot for a skateboard park, an appropriate playful entrance to the compound. The library and kitchen are housed in the main building. Books and food take precedence. The compound also includes a training centre, stores and several ECD classrooms situated on a level below the main building. Rainwater tanks and solar panels provide water and energy for the compound.


At Thanda Community Centre, staff indicate a passionate and practical commitment to the organisation's values and vision through the development of creative young people. They construct their own curricula covering areas of children's development drawing from innovative approaches and reflective practice. Play Box training is integrated into the broader curricula of content and practice. Along with Care for Education, Thanda Community Centre trains all their facilitators as learning through play practitioners and some as trainers in Play Box.


“We call ourselves facilitators (not teachers). We do not work the same way, with the children, as teachers in the schools do. We are trying to help children to discover themselves, to be creative and to learn new skills. We have used LEGO bricks so much here that they eventually don’t stick!” (Focus group comment, 2021)

Play Box is adding value to learning in rural communities around Kwa-Zulu Natal. Click here to read the full extract by Gareth Rossiter and more about the newly established neighbourhood learning groups and the extension of Thanda Community Centre in the Eastern Cape.


Photographs by Rogan Ward (Zero2Five)


Upcoming: Living Kids in Mamelodi and Eersterus