Sustainable Communities  

“Naledi3d Factory is… more than an excellent technical partner for UNESCO. I have personally been impressed by the company’s commitment to, in the spirit of post apartheid South Africa, seek new solutions and share know-how for the public good across the continent”
Peter Schiøler, CII Advisor to UNESCO (Paris)

“…Finally, and perhaps most excitingly, Naledi3d Factory works closely with local stakeholders to develop the content that goes into its interactive simulations. This ensures that the content is always relevant and much more appropriate to the communities and cultures where it will be used.”
Dr Fay Chung, previous Minister of Education, Zimbabwe 

“VR helps us to get knowledge about fixing our fields - we did not have this knowledge
“This brings reality into learning.”
“It’s not a one way process, everyone is involved”
“It was explained in Shona so we could understand
“It was different from normal learning because you can see - not told”
“VR is a powerful tool in the development of our communities”
Rio Tinto farmers… (Zimbabwe)

“Makes life easy, we can easily recall the activities in the learning objects”
“Easy to recall because of the various demonstrations unlike with the normal learning process”
Mutoko farmers…(Zimbabwe)

“It is more like the real life situation.
“It is more interesting…”
The 3D approach makes concepts easy to understand”
“VR programs should cover every sector of life”
“It is very helpful - as an Agric. Teacher I would want to continually use VR in my lessons”
Rusike farmers… (Zimbabwe)


Using VR to build quality knowledge transfer and supporting sustainable communities

Much of our work since 2000 at Naledi3d has focussed on exploring ways to harness virtual reality (VR) in supporting people in our poorer communities across Africa. Our work in this area is not only innovative, it is also world-class - and still remains unique world-wide.


Why virtual reality?

As VR is both visual and interactive in nature, it is a very powerful way to communicate ideas and concepts:

  • Language becomes secondary. European languages are often used in training activities. Why? It is likely to be an audiences’ third or fourth strongest language, resulting in much being lost in translation, reduced comprehension, knowledge retention and less actual learning being achieved
  • Literacy is not a pre-requisite to quality knowledge transfer
  • A VR experience is very close to how our brains work (visually and in 3D) - we’ve yet to find anyone who dreams in text – or PowerPoint slides!
  • VR simulations allow for multi-cultural and multi-lingual experiences
  • Can be designed to support Unit Standards where appropriate




We have had some spectacular results, especially in our recent projects in Zimbabwe, where we worked with World Links Zimbabwe and small-holding farmers.

We have received recognition from the World Summit Award (WSA). Out of over 20,000 nominations from 157 countries, our citation reads in part “one of the most outstanding examples of creative and innovative e-content”. We are understandably truly proud of this recognition from a global organisation.

Apart from the impact on communities, the i3dlo’s that are developed using donor funds are housed on our i3dlo web site – making them accessible to all who want to use them in their own training programmes.


Nakaseke: The "community" indicated a drop in dysentery and other disease.

"It has been shown to community members and schoolchildren, with the special approach of having users run it on their own"

"This has also been one way of encouraging locals that were originally intimidated by th MCT to participate and use the equipment at the MCT..." (MCT Newsletter,2003)


Typical impact areas

  • Water
  • Sanitation
  • Health and health care
  • Computer literacy
  • Agriculture
  • Sustainable / renewable energy options
  • Trades / artisan skills development e.g. FET colleges and construction / maintenance, plumbing / electrical etc  (see also 3d-trainer)
  • Municipal infrastructure – road maintenance, water reticulation etc



Building on our experience over ten years, we have pioneered the concept of “interactive3d learning objects” (“i3dlo’s”).

Based on traditional learning objects, i3dlo’s can be reused in different ways, can be easily incorporated into existing training programmes and even translated into languages more suited to local audiences.


Framework for project success


We have developed a powerful implementation model that is based on collaboration.

This model is crucial to ensuring project success.

While the devil is always in the detail, the overall model is based on three integrated, equally important pillars:

  1. Initial i3dlo content development at the Naledi3d Factory
  2. One or more community-based training partners who are active in the target community. It is this partner that takes responsibility for localisation of developed i3dlo’s and also uses the developed learning material in their own training activities.

    Community training activities should also be based on facilitated group sessions – and based on the principles of Padare / Ubuntu. In this way:

    • Discussion will brings out important local experiences and local knowledge and
    • Allows for “modernising” without “westernising”

    It is also important to also “train the local trainer”, which:

    • Allows for local ownership and continuity
    • Leads to ongoing local sessions.
  3. Funding support by a funding partner (let’s face it; no project can be successful without the “grease” to provide the resources to make it so).