Nurturing learning through play experiences among displaced children in Tigray, Ethiopia

Aug 09, 2022

The ongoing conflict in Tigray, Northern Ethiopia, which began in November 2020 has led to displacement of people and disruption of basic services, including education. Shire, a town in Northern Tigray, hosts internally displaced persons in seven sites, which lack adequate infrastructure to support children’s learning. In response to the humanitarian situation, the International Rescue Committee through the PlayMatters project supported seven existing ECCD learning centers in the internally displaced sites in Shire with books, pens, toys, alphabet boards, crayons, paper, mats, mattresses, and other materials to enable children play, learn and have a safe space to spend their day. The centers were also provided with 6,000 cartons of high energy biscuits to supplement children's feeding as they attend classes. 

Additionally, the PlayMatters project procured and erected six classroom tents, which will serve as temporary learning centers in a new site, Mayi-Demu, where the existing ECCD centers will be moved. 

Children in an ECD center in Shire

Children attending an ECCD class in a temporary learning center in Shire. The ECCD centers will be moved to the new location in Mayi-Demu. 

Additionally, their teachers and community leaders were trained on learning through play, and how it can help children cope with the difficult situation. The PlayMatters at Home learning booklets were also distributed in these temporary learning centers. The booklets, which were developed to support learning at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, contain fun learning activities in literacy, numeracy, and socio-emotional learning.

learning packets distribution 2

Children receiving books, pens, crayons, the PlayMatters at Home learning booklets among other supplies to support learning. 

LtP training in shire

ECCD facilitators and community leaders in a learning through play training session.

In May 2021, the PlayMatters project similarly supported three IDP sites in Shire with crayons, books, pens, pencils, and other materials to support newly displaced children have access to play-based learning.

According to Neche Adanew, a mother of two whose family was displaced due to fighting and a member of a Parent-Teacher Association at one of the Early Childhood Care and Development centers in Shire, ‘’Children are traumatized and exposed to different risks. These learning centers have helped us (parents) to have a place where our children can continue learning.’’ she said.  

tents in shire

New temporary learning centers established in Mayi-Demu. 

In addition to these efforts aimed at improving access to learning in the IDP sites in Shire, the PlayMatters project is committed to support access to education during other emergencies. In May 2022, the project launched a $15 million fund that aims at increasing access to quality education, health, sanitation, hygiene, and protection services for children affected by conflict and disasters.

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