Community Event Report
‘The Importance of Play on Child’s Holistic Growth’ Homa Bay County, Kenya
Hope School organizes a Community Event to Sensitize School Heads, Teachers, Parents, Educational and Security Stakeholders on the Importance of Play in holistic growth of the Child.
On 20th October, 2023 Mercy Youth Initiative (MYI) with funding support from the Defending Early Years (DEY – Mini Grant Initiative) hosted a community-wide event at Nyamanga Primary School, Mbita District, Kenya that brought together a total of 12 headteachers representing 12 primary schools, 12 early years educators, National Government Administrative Officers ( 1 DC, 3 DO’s, 1 Chief and 4 Assistant Chiefs), 8 civic leaders and 2 ward representative with a goal to sensitize the various stakeholders and parents on the importance of play in holistic child’s growth.
The community event discussions centered on;
- Ways of raising resources to establish play parks, games zones in the local schools.
- Creating public places that are children-friendly and offers opportunities for children to play.
- Bringing stakeholders together including the two tiers of government; County Government being in charge of early childhood development and education (ECDE) and National Government in charge of Primary, Secondary and higher education. The event discussions aimed at building a community civic engagement forum to petition the two-tiers of governments to review their policies and adopt play – based education as a critical element for holistic child’s growth.
- The workshop noted the importance of early learning as entrenched in the second target of Sustainable Development Goal 4, which seeks to ensure that, by 2030, “all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education”.
- The early years education (EYE) stakeholders agreed that they are going to adopt Play based learning in their institutions and emphatically shift from test-based and exams oriented education and fully adopt an active, play-based learning approaches capable to transform the educational experiences of children in the early primary grades and strengthen learning motivation and outcomes.
- The workshop provided stakeholders with a platform to re-think and re-imagine on how to teach young children to tap their enormous learning potential. All the teachers in attendance agreed that Play is one of the most important ways in which young children gain essential knowledge and skills. For this reason, play opportunities and environments that promote play, exploration and hands-on learning are at the core of effective pre-primary programmes.
- The two Ward Representative among other civic leaders in attendance were petitioned and asked to draft a bill and take to the county assembly for allocation of funds to all county government funded EYE centers to establish and equip playgrounds in all schools.
One challenge is the tension between play for its own sake and educational play, which focuses on curriculum goals and outcomes. Another challenge is the difficulty of translating theoretical knowledge into practical activities that provide meaningful playful experiences for young children.
Play-based learning engages young students in intentional, structured, and developmentally appropriate play that supports specific learning goals. This child-centered and self-directed approach gives students more choice to discover what they enjoy; encourages active participation in learning; and can benefit young students’ cognitive, physical, and social-emotional development
Draft a formal petition to the County Governor, County Executive Committee Member (CECM), the County Government of Homa Bay to allocate 10% of the total County Source Revenue to fund purchase and installation of play equipment in all the early years education centers being run by the County Government so that play-based educational approach can be adopted and implemented in Homa Bay County.
Plan for a follow-up workshop in 3rd quarter of 2024 to assess the impact of play in early years education in Mbita West Zone where EYE teacher’s, EYE Headteachers and Center Managers have been inducted, sensitized with the previous DEY Mini Grant Funding.