The Africa Play Conference was held from the 25th to 27th February 2019 in the City of Tshwane, Republic of South Africa. The delegates were from Angola, Bangladesh, Belgium, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Canada, Chile, Cote d’Ivoire, Eswatini, Ethiopia, France, Ghana, Jordan, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States of America, Vietnam, Zambia, and Zimbabwe representing Ministries , Governments civil society and academia.
The Inaugural Statement touched on a number of points, all of which were in support of the importance of play – based learning. For the country and the world over to have children who possess 21st century skills, there is a great need for all the stakeholders to come together. There is need to recognise and action the collective obligation on governments, private sector, colleges and parents. All stakeholders were urged to harness the collective partnerships at local, national, continental and global levels for resourcing and implementation of play-based learning across the education continuum.
The opening ceremony had a playful African flair. The conference set-up was informal and had some playful elements around the whole room. Speakers from all over the world were given an opportunity to speak about play based learning and its benefits from their angles of specialisation. There were also break-away rooms where delegates had to choose attend what they were interested in
To give the delegates an opportunity to play, five stations of playground activities were set-up in different areas of the venue. Delegate had to participate and receive a brick of a different colour after they had done the activities. The stations were:
- Building bridges where delegates had to bridge bridges using white Lego blocks
- Scribbling machines where delegates had to build a machine from parts and tinker with how it works
- Play dough where we had to sculpt a memory from your childhood which I really enjoyed as it brought memories
- Suit your suitcase where delegates had the opportunity to decorate the suitcase they had received at registration to reflects the child within
- Rooftop Regatta where delegates had to build a boat using Lego and sail it across the pool
The three most valuable aspects of the conference I took away with me were the content on learning through play from the sessions I managed to attend, the hands-on activities as well as the opportunity I got to network with PLAY ambassadors from all over the world! It was an honour to be part of such of a momentous occasion. I will relive the experience every moment I get going forward.
Written by: Getrude Mabeza