by Dumi Mbona

Thero transforming the educational system across the continent through SPELL.

My name is Thero Modisagae, I was born and bred in Rustenbur I went to school in Fields College and completed my matric in 2009. In 2010 I enrolled for a Law degree at Rhodes University. I completed my BA law degree in 2013. In 2013 I started having a deep desire to do something that would make a difference in people’s lives especially in education. I have always been a driven person and have always been passionate about education. And also believe that education is a very powerful instrument that can be used to transform our society if used correctly. I was torn between a career in law and making a difference. In 2014 I decided to enrol for a PGCE (post grad certificate in education) with Rhodes University

In my first introductory seminar; the Head of department spoke about South Africa’s educational problems at both basic and tertiary education. I was shocked by the statistics she shared at the time. I was surprized to find out that South Africa competes in a literacy programme every year in which we were ranked one of the lowest countries.

The head of department spoke about the poor literacy level in our country and how many people fail or drop out in education because of literacy. To add more salt to the language catastrophe I learned in most corporate companies English is a huge a problem as a language of communication and corporate business; despite English being a global language for business and communication around the world.

Burning bush experience.


I found this very worrying because this problem exists within tertiary education as well. After all the statistics were shared this became a seed in my heart. I knew something had to be done but I didn’t really have a plan of what I would do.

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Six months later I was listening to a discussion that was hosted by John Robbie on 702 . The discussion was about the literacy level in South Africa in basic education and tertiary education. A lot of people called into the show and some experts in education explained why South Africa is not doing well. This became a burning bush in my heart.

I started doing my own research by having casual discussions with teachers who taught English from both private schools and government schools from foundation phase, intermediate phase and high school. What I got from all of this was very disturbing.

Action time

I decided to make a difference by creating a fun educational board game that would promote learning for children and parents. In my research I established that children and adults enjoy learning only when the learning is done in a fun way. In July 2016 SPELL was born; I was passionate about the game board and I worked on it every day. Today I can proudly say that I can see the fruit of the hard work. I have self-funded my entire project from my salary. I am currently working for Advtech as a curriculum policy manager.

The game board was launched in October 2017 and is currently in retail as well. I have pushed my game board because I truly believe that it can make an impact. I have had reviews from educational experts and various people who have played it. My aim is to ensure that everyone can have access to the game regardless of their socio-economic position. This is to expand the game beyond the borders of South Africa.

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SPELL is an educational board game that primarily focuses on learning in a fun and interactive way. SPELL stands for Spelling and Pronunciation in English Learning and Language. The game provides an engaging learning environment where people can play in teams of 4-5. It also focuses on spelling, syntax, grammar, parts of speech, recall and pronunciation.

The game encourages the teams to play at the highest level to promote a constructive learning space. There are three levels in the game that teams may choose from; the first level is beginner which is an easier entry level; and this level is suitable for people who would like to grow in their confidence. 

The second level is the intermediate level which is used to allow teams to participate at a more competitive level to challenge themselves. The last level is the advanced level which is the mastery level. This level is for people who are confident with their language proficiency. This level includes high order thinking and very challenging words. All three levels have a different point system.

Although it is highly encouraged to play the Advanced level; it is also important to go through the first two levels to build the teams confidence.