An innovative game is enabling quality learning for children in under-resourced areas

by | Apr 21, 2023 | News


Cape Town, 21 April – On World Creativity and Innovation Day (21 April), Innovation Edge (IE) publishes a report showcasing the impact made by one of their investments – Finding Thabo – in enabling quality learning for South African children. 

Finding Thabo is an innovative play-based and cost-effective interactive educational game that caregivers and early learning practitioners in under-resourced communities can use to engage their children in quality learning activities. Caregivers and practitioners who have been using Finding Thabo in their homes and early learning centres respectively, reported improvement in children’s observation, mathematics and language skills. The report shares these insights and more through a narrative story, graphics, direct quotes and Facebook reviews collected from some of the users of Finding Thabo. 

The first six years of a child’s life are the most crucial period of their brain development. It is when neural pathways in their brain are developing the most. They learn an incredible number of skills and amount of information that they will need to function throughout the rest of their lives.

Finding Thabo is designed to stimulate key parts of the child’s brain and develop a foundation for lifelong learning. The game’s activities were developed based on research into developmental deficits in South African children, and what the children need to overcome these issues. About 174 early learning centres in the Cape Winelands, Heidelberg, Cederberg and Overberg regions of the Western Cape were on-boarded onto the Finding Thabo programme in 2022 and have incorporated the game into their lesson plans. This year (2023), 400 early learning centres in Gauteng, 450 in Mpumalanga and 150 in the Western Cape are being on-boarded onto the Finding Thabo programme. 

Finding Thabo, which consists of 10 colourful and beautifully illustrated pictures used in conjunction with the WhatsApp or Facebook chatbot was pioneered by The Reach Trust and was created in collaboration with experts in the early childhood development sector.

Andrew Rudge – The Reach Trust CEO behind the Finding Thabo innovation comments:

“We know from the recent Thrive by Five report that the majority of South African children are not developmentally on track.  These children are generally not receiving quality stimulation before they reach school. Finding Thabo was designed to close this gap by providing high quality, play-based stimulation that can be introduced in all socio-economic settings.  We are excited to keep scaling the programme and ultimately help all young children to reach their full potential. “

Between 2018 and 2022, Innovation Edge invested close to R1 million and provided strategic support towards the development of the pictures, activity guides, Facebook and WhatsApp chatbots, and the translation of the activities from English to isiXhosa and Afrikaans.

Adliya van Niekerk, Innovation Edge’s Investment Principal:

“Our investment in Finding Thabo sought to create an educationally sound resource that can be delivered in an easy-to-use and easy-to-access format. Our support for the development of the chatbots stems from the idea that we can reach more children in areas where last mile delivery is often a barrier to access.”

The investment in Finding Thabo unlocked other financial and non-financial support beyond IE’s involvement, which created opportunities for impact in more children. 

Download (add link) the report to learn more. 

For queries, contact Dimpho Lephaila, [email protected] 


Other useful links:

Innovation Edge, Apply for Funding 

The Reach Trust

Finding Thabo Facebook Page

Finding Thabo Shop