World Play Day 2023

World Play Day 2023 is here! PlayMatters recognises milestones made in bringing play to learning



World Play Day has been celebrated every year on May 28, since 2001. Dr. Freda Kim, a British teacher and play advocate, who is also the architect behind the day, indicated the importance of play to children in humanitarian contexts.  

In her words, she said, “While adults have understanding of these disasters and are able to verbalise, children need to act out the tragedy and deal with the trauma in their lives through play… (they) must be encouraged and allowed to play even in their devastating conditions. By allowing children to play you are helping them to a healthy adulthood.” 

Years later, the LEGO Foundation-funded PlayMatters project emphasizes the value of play in learning for children including refugees and those who have experienced trauma. As defined by PlayMatters, Learning through Play is an active teaching and learning method in which children learn through guided, hands-on, meaningful, play-based interactions in safe and inclusive environments. 

This year’s World Play Day comes at a time when the project has hit some great milestones including training teachers, launching continuous professional development activities in schools, rehabilitation of learning spaces and back to school campaigns, among others in Uganda, Ethiopia and Tanzania, the three countries where the project is being implemented.  

A few highlights

In Uganda, approximately 1,664 teachers have been trained and 127 schools in seven districts reached. In addition, TeamUp activities were implemented in 34 schools in northern and western Uganda and 25,440 learners were reached with 104 facilitators. 

In Tanzania, the project successfully secured an approval from the Tanzania Institute of Education to use the national Teachers' Continuous Professional Development framework to incorporate learning through play approaches in teaching learners in primary schools. Teacher Professional Development is at the heart of the PlayMatters project in order to skill teachers to be able to deliver Learning through Play approaches. 

In Ethiopia, the team rolled out educator trainings on LtP with 1,136 teachers, and supportive supervision mechanisms (including classroom observations) and peer learning mechanisms were piloted and refined. In addition, the PlayMatters Emergency Response Mechanism (ERM) distributed more than 80,000 textbooks to conflict affected schools in Amhara Region to support the learning needs of refugees, internally displaced people and host community children affected by conflict. And in the Tigray region, six temporary learning centers, six shades for playgrounds, and four school fences were rehabilitated. 

To commemorate World Play Day this year, PlayMatters recognizes all of these efforts and more the project is making towards creating an enabling environment for children to Learn through Play in Uganda, Ethiopia and Tanzania. Let’s all support a child to learn through play today! 

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