Let's Learn and Play

UNICEF and the LEGO Foundation continue to support children learning through play in Egypt

Dalia Younis
UNICEF and the LEGO Foundation continue to support children learning through play in Egypt
UNICEF/Egypt 2021/Galal Elmisarry
24 June 2021

Play is one of the most important ways in which young children gain essential knowledge and skills. Learning through play is crucial for children’s positive development, regardless their circumstances.  For this reason, play opportunities and environments that promote play, exploration and hands-on learning are at the core of UNICEF Early Childhood Development (ECD) programming.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected children’s education worldwide, and the Egyptian context was no exception. Vulnerable Egyptian and Refugee children's education were drastically interrupted.

In 2020, the cooperation between UNICEF Egypt, UNICEF Denmark NATCOM and the LEGO Foundation was extended to a second phase to continue the existing program while addressing the immediate educational needs of additional vulnerable children including Egyptian and refugee children.

UNICEF received a total of 2,683 LEGO play boxes, which were distributed to 81 refugee community schools, 1,281 Egyptian community schools and 237 Early Childhood Development (ECD) centers and benefitted more than 55,000 refugee and Egyptian children across the country. UNICEF trained 3,356 practitioners on how to create playful experiences using LEGO bricks promoting children’s drive and motivation to learn.

In this photo essay, we learn more about this program and witness the first moments when the children of Tender Care Community School and Sayyeda Zeinab ECD center in Cairo enjoy the new LEGO bricks.

UNICEF and the LEGO Foundation continue to support children learning through play in Egypt
UNICEF/Egypt 2021/Galal Elmisarry
Billiam is pretty excited about his LEGO creation. Through playing with LEGO children can not only learn about space and movement but also develop literacy and numeracy skills.
UNICEF and the LEGO Foundation continue to support children learning through play in Egypt
UNICEF/Egypt 2021/Galal Elmisarry
Puot and Selwa are enjoying their time building their own creations. “At play time, we get to make noise in class," one of them confessed, "and it's okay because we are learning and playing!”
UNICEF and the LEGO Foundation continue to support children learning through play in Egypt
UNICEF/Egypt 2021/Karim Soliman
Hamza is happily building his first LEGO piece. The Egyptian Community School model, developed through a tripartite partnership between the Government of Egypt, civil society, and local communities with the support of UNICEF, aims to increase access to quality education for the most vulnerable and hard to reach children in Egypt, especially girls. This takes places through the establishment of one to two classrooms in remote communities having large numbers of out-of-school children.
UNICEF and the LEGO Foundation continue to support children learning through play in Egypt
UNICEF/Egypt 2021/Galal Elmisarry
Given the global pandemic of COVID-19, there was an inevitable delay in direct implementation with children given nation-wide lockdowns and school closures. LEGO packages were safely kept in the warehouses of Catholic Relief Service (CRS), UNICEF’s implementing partner, until the school reopening date was announced. Once the date was announced by the local government, supplies were immediately dispatched to Syrian and African community schools in different governorates.
UNICEF and the LEGO Foundation continue to support children learning through play in Egypt
UNICEF/Egypt 2021/Galal Elmisarry
While the shipments were on their way, blended learning trainings were held to 3,356 practitioners who will be taking this experience forward to children around Egypt’s governorates.
UNICEF and the LEGO Foundation continue to support children learning through play in Egypt
UNICEF/Egypt 2021/Karim Soliman
Karma is thinking what to do next wither LEGO pieces. Since the program expanded, UNICEF targeted more ECD centers in 2020-2021 to increase access to ECD services in more disadvantaged areas, capitalizing on the facilitators already trained to train others to benefit more vulnerable children.