The innovation serves as the intersection between an educational and entertainment facility, ushering in a multifaceted learning experience that encourages fine motor skills development, bolstered levels of information retention, and a higher-level understanding that what the children are learning is directly related to the world around them. This hub has been designed to be accessible and inclusive – ensuring that both teachers and learners alike are able to immerse themselves in this innovation.
The South African education system is one, that is often still considered representative of the country’s history of inequality and disparity. There are many young people in our country who do not have access to education as government schools often do not have sufficient resources. The quality of education will often fail to support a student’s attempts to enter a tertiary education facility.
In order for the country to shift this, Shenilla Mohammed, Executive Director of Amnesty International South Africa – encourages SA to prioritize quality infrastructure and facilities, such as resource allocation and safety. By improving those things, it would in theory boost attendance and consequently improve the national pass rate.
We believe this socioeconomic and political contextualization is important for localizing this innovation, to emphasize the scope of the landscape the innovation was created in and consequently its social impact.
The Wonderdal learning experience is informed by the government-mandated curriculum, CAPS, and opts to tackle two primary subjects, being, Mathematics, and Natural Sciences. In doing so, it conveys to children that the world around them is interrelated – indicating that what they’re learning in the classroom, is also taking place in the world around them.
Wonderdal is comprised of digital interactives, tangible interactives, physical exercise, and exertion – all the while incorporating aspects of the schooling environment, such as the briefing and debriefing process prior to and after the experience. Despite this teaching institute being unlike others in South Africa in terms of its multifaceted approach to education, it doesn’t alienate itself in doing so. The innovation opted to marry entertainment and interactive play with education due to preliminary data findings conducted in the design stage indicating that information uptake is higher in children from ages 5-13 if they’re able to tangibly interact with the content.
Teachers who have visited this educational hub have recorded the experience to be a notable example of “21st-century learning” as well as a space that facilitates the development of ‘fine motor skills and self-discovery’. All the while, also providing the children with a sense of instant gratification and instant feedback from the technology.
The hub makes use of world-class technological features to enhance its teaching facilities – some of which include RFID wristbands, which are designed to provide each child with a unique ID that they will then use to access each station and move throughout the innovation completing various tasks. This was designed to offer a more personalized experience which will allow the teachers and supervisors to track their progress and provide the host organization with data about the interactions in the space. In conjunction with that, the personalized learning experience includes 6 imaginary creatures called Amuki, which are based on the elements, and are designed to teach the children to care for the environment. Each child gets assigned a personal Amuki which acts as a virtual learning companion who will guide them through the experience.
Not only does Wonderdal look to create the most engaging atmosphere to encourage children to interact with the learning material, but the hub has also created teacher training packages that include modules and books which ensure the teachers are well-equipped to consolidate the information retention in the children after leaving the grounds. This aspect of the innovation was driven by the lack of resources or aid provided to government school teachers and aims to plug the gap in the system.
Lastly, Wonderdal was constructed on the grounds of Hazendal Wine Estate who uses its facilities for philanthropic programs, targeted at previously disadvantaged communities in the surrounding areas who are invited to attend Wonderdal at little to no cost ensuring that this experience is accessible to all.
Shlomi Azar and Simone Voloshin