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Play power: Building a better future for children

UNICEF South Africa/2017/Reddy
© UNICEF South Africa/2017/Reddy
UNICEF South Africa ECD Specialist Andries Viviers in dialogue with future young leaders who spoke on why play is important to them.

Pretoria, 11-13 July 2017 -  “P-L-A-Y” being enthusiastically sung to the tune of “YMCA” is not the usual way one opens a conference. But this was no ordinary policy gathering – this was the Play Conference” in which the importance of play for children was the focus.

Evidence shows that the simple act of playing by a child promotes brain development and important cognitive, social, emotional, and physical skills. With this in mind, UNICEF, Department of Basic Education (DBE), the Lego Foundation and Cotlands hosted the 2017 Play Conference in Pretoria from 11 to 13 July. This gathering of over 300 early childhood development (ECD) practitioners, policy specialists and researchers sought ways to highlight how play forms an essential part of children’s learning, development and well-being in both policy and practice.
In her keynote address, the Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga, while acknowledging South Africa’s National Development Plan, emphasised the need to make play a critical part of the curriculum from ECD programmes onward. Echoing these sentiments, UNICEF Global Chief of Education, Josephine Bourne elaborated on the importance placed on play by UNICEF and how it compliments both the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Sustainable Development Goals. Highlighting play-focused initiatives in the country, UNICEF South Africa Chief of Education Dr Wyliffe Otieno thanked the fellow organisers for their tireless efforts to ensure that play forms the bedrock of early childhood development, and urged all participant to be champions of play.

The engaging deliberations reminded participants that from infancy, children have an innate potential to learn about the world through play- and that is why it must be promoted and fostered. 





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