Thanda, an organisation which delivers early childhood development, organic farming and after‐school educational programmes to more than 900 beneficiaries in rural Umtwalume, on KwaZulu‐Natal’s south coast, will be better able to assist those it serves, thanks to the establishment of the new R700 000 Thanda Resource Centre, the result of a major donation by the South African MuslimCharitable Trust (SAMCT).
Co‐founder and Programme Director, Mr Tyler Howard, described Thanda, which was established in 2008, as an organisation working to empower people with crucial life‐skills, such as self‐esteem, critical thinking and empathy, so that they become able to make a positive contribution to their community.
Mr Howard maintained that learning is an endless journey and said: “The Thanda Resource Centre is a place where we can recognise the power of knowledge and make learning more accessible to everyone.”
Contrary to the usual ‘sit‐and‐listen’ teaching methodology used in most educational systems, Thanda facilitators use hands‐on activities and interactive discussions to engage children in the learning process. Lessons are developed around available resources and assist children in making lateral connections across subject areas. The organisation’s facilitators link global issues to the local community, with heavy emphasis being placed on functional knowledge, rather than rote learning.
Many rural schools suffer from inadequate infrastructure and resources, described by SAMCT representative, Mr Abdul Osman, as ‘a great tragedy.’
“A sound education is the tool necessary for growth, development and success in life. Knowledge gained through education unlocks entrepreneurial and employment opportunities, which provide the financial wherewithal to enjoy quality of life. Education is a means to escape the poverty trap forever, and yet is denied to so many of our young people. It is for this reason that the work of Thanda is to be admired, applauded and, above all, supported, “Mr Osman said.
Thanks to the SAMCT, Thanda’s growing team of facilitators are moving from a shared and cramped environment to their new facility, dedicated for their training, research, lesson planning and storage.
Commenting during the official hand‐over of the new structure, Mr Osman said: “Thanda is dedicated to empowering the community it serves, through youth development, in order to bring about positive change. Such a commitment is to be greatly applauded because so many of our province’s young people still do not enjoy the fair and equal educational opportunities they deserve.”
Thanda’s work with more than 700 learners from six local schools from Grade R to Grade 9 was being hampered because of the lack of space for facilitators to plan after‐school lessons and receive training.
“All that changes now. The new Thanda Resource Centre provides the facilitators with a dedicated space for training, research and lesson planning activities, whilst also providing very necessary space for the safe storage of a range of teacher resource equipment,” said Mr Osman.
It also means that its shared use of the community library for such activities will be ended, enabling this facility to once again become more open and inviting to the community. It is envisaged that the library will register an increase in the number of children and adults from the community utilizing library services.
The SAMCT was created in 2008 and its establishment has enabled the provision of funding, services and other resources for the improvement of the lives of numerous deprived, poverty‐stricken and historically disadvantaged communities. Since its inception, the organisation has delivered sizeable financial assistance solutions throughout the country, irrespective of race or religion.
Mr Osman indicated that the SAMCT was aware of the financial challenges Thanda faced and believed the new centre would ‘go a long way’ towards the facilitators being better able to serve learners within the community.
“We set‐out to offer support to needy organisations operating in four primary sectors, namely health, social development, poverty alleviation and education. Our humble efforts in bringing to fruition this Centre for Thanda are geared around making a meaningful contribution to a most deserving cause; a cause which is assisting to right the wrongs of yester‐year, improving the education of the needy and giving youngsters here a helping hand towards achieving a better future,” said Mr Osman.