A journey from numbers on cartons and packaging to “My Playbox”

Every day, six-year-old Kadriye plays with the toys in the box that was brought to her through the collaboration of the Ministry of National Education and UNICEF Turkey.

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22 October 2021

Kadriye excitedly waits for her teachers by the window on the day they will visit. While she takes the toys out of the playbox and goes through them, her mother Teslime explains that this is the first time her family has had access to resources her daughters can learn and play with. “We did not have any educational toys before. Using whatever resources I had, I glued numbers on cartons, making toys with materials like chocolate boxes and wafer packaging,” says Teslime Sancı.

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The Sancı Family is just one of the 1,000 families who received “My Playbox” as part of the EU-funded Early Childhood Education (ECE) Project. The family, residing in the Sarıkız Village, located 30 km south of Konya, consists of five members: mother Teslime, father Sinan and children Fatma (2 years old), Kadriye (6 years old) and Hatice Kübra (9 years old). The father, who is a blacksmith, cannot work anymore after he had an occupational accident six months ago. The family, whose house burned down in May this year, has been temporarily hosted at the village’s Headman’s residence.

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After she plays with the educational toys in the box a little bit, we talk with Kadriye. With a big smile on her face, she tells us that she has named her doll “Ayşegül”. Her mother, Teslime, says that Kadriye learned many things that she did not know before thanks to her playbox.

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She says that “now Kadriye writes her name, counts numbers and draws pictures”. Watching Kadriye as she draws, Teslime says, “Normally she did not like to draw, but she has been drawing pictures ever since we received crayons”.

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Kadriye’s little sister Fatma has also been benefiting from using the box on daily basis. “Not only Kadriye, but also her sister Fatma plays with the toys in the box every day, the two learn by playing together,” the mother adds.

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Teslime explains that their teachers visit the house every week, also adding “An hour a week passes really quickly with music and games. We wait for them to visit again, and in the meantime Kadriye spreads the toys from her playbox all around the house and plays with them”.

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“My Playbox” project, is implemented under the home-based early childhood care and education model, focuses especially on children under the age of six and their families living in underprivileged conditions with limited or no access to early childhood education services.

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“Increasing Quality of and Access to Early Childhood Education” project will continue for three years with a budget of 30 million Euros and will provide support for more than 50,000 children under the age of six. The project is carried out in partnership between the Ministry of National Education, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MoLSS), the European Union (EU) and UNICEF.  

The ECE Project aims to increase access to early childhood education services for all children and to improve the quality of pre-school education. The project’s main target group is young children, while also involving teachers, school principals, and other ECE service providers, with the goal of strengthening their capacity to provide high quality early childhood services.

Volunteer teachers are supporting children's home-based early childhood education by using My Playbox during visits to the children’s homes at least once a month. This model will help support 5,000 children in 20 pilot provinces that are included in the project.

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