JOHANNESBURG (3 November 2021) -- How can African solutions to education gaps exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic inspire the world? Look no further than Play Africa, southern Africa’s pioneering children’s museum based at Constitution Hill, which has been named one of the most impactful and scalable innovations in education worldwide.
Schools have been shut across the world, with more than 1.2 billion children still out of classrooms. Children, parents, and educators have been forced to adapt to home-based learning, with unequal access to remote learning and digital tools. In South Africa, 86% of the primary schools in the Western Cape are still practicing rotational timetables, which some education experts entrench inequalities for a new generation. Amid this crisis, solutions with proven impact are in desperate demand.
HundrED, a non-profit organisation specialising in education innovations, together with its global community of education experts, has just launched the HundrED Global Collection 2022 Report that showcases the hundred most impactful and scalable innovations tackling the biggest challenges in education right now. The organisation, based in Finland, announced the results at the #HundredInnovationSummit21 in Helsinki that was broadcast live around the world.
Play Africa, a children’s museum launched in Johannesburg in 2014, has developed 46 education solutions that use playful learning to empower a new generation to build Africa’s future. From its headquarters at Constitution Hill to mobile programmes and educator training that it runs across nine South African provinces, it is redefining the idea of what a museum can be in the 21st century. Its innovations range from early childhood development (ECD), to promoting skills in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM), creative arts, and active citizenship. It also has developed new innovations in educator training, parent engagement, and placemaking initiatives to transform public spaces for play. Play Africa was chosen from among 2,657 education initiatives around the world, by a panel of 120 global education experts. The judges provided comments about why they chose Play Africa to be featured in the 2022 Global Collection:
● “By stimulating hands-on play areas in underserved communities, Play Africa sparks imagination and encourages empathy, experimentation, problem-solving and a growth mindset in children, their families and educators. It is extremely impactful,” said Vanessa Tenório, a sustainability educator and researcher from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
● “The life-long impact of focusing on play in early childhood education is significant and Play Africa’s model has clear impact for both teachers and students and appears to foster a love for learning during a really critical period,” said Tyler Samstag, the Pittsburgh, USA-based director of Remake Learning, a network that ignites engaging, relevant, and equitable learning practices in support of young people navigating rapid social and technological change. ● “Play Africa’s innovation helps to transform spaces into community places where children can play, learn, and connect with the community. The innovation has an impact not just on the learning outcomes but also community growth,” said Wendy Ng, HundrED Country Lead for Singapore
Play Africa founder and CEO Gretchen Wilson-Prangley credits Play Africa’s longstanding partnerships, including with founding partner Rand Merchant Bank, FirstRand, Constitution Hill, and others with providing the support and encouragement to become a global leader in education.
“Our entire team is thrilled to receive this recognition for our innovative approach to reimagining education in Africa by celebrating the possibility inside every child,” said Wilson-Prangley, upon hearing about Play Africa’s inclusion in the report. “We see every child, every parent and every educator as capable, curious and full of potential. We’re delighted that our approach to nurturing that potential is being celebrated by colleagues around the world. Every child -- absolutely every child -- has the right to a high-quality education that will prepare them with skills for a changing world.”
Read the HundrED 2022 Global Collection report to learn how the hundred most impactful innovations approach vast education challenges.
About Play Africa
Play Africa is a pioneering “children's museum” based at the iconic Constitution Hill in Johannesburg, South Africa, a former prison complex that is now the seat of South Africa’s Constitutional Court. Play Africa operates in the courtyards just 15 metres from the cell were former President Nelson Mandela was once incarcerated. As a cultural institution, its exhibits and programs are designed to stimulate imagination, experimentation, innovation and problem-solving in children, as well as their families and educators. Play Africa Group is a member of theAssociation of Children’s Museums. It is a registered South African non-profit company (#2014/101533/08), and a registered public benefit organization (#930048005) with
Section 18A tax-exempt status. It is an independent children’s museum supported by Rand
Merchant Bank, 3M, BIC Corporate Foundation, the Government of Canada, Constitution Hill
and others. More info: www.playafrica.org.za