Today is the first day for Vérène Yankurwe at the Nyamiaga pre-primary school. She is in charge of Class Three for the children of age six. “As today is our first day, I explained to my students about basic habits like hand washing with soap after using the toilet,” she said. “Now we are going to play and sing together.”
Vérène is one of over 900 pre-primary teachers who have received training on play-based learning as part of a program to upgrade and strengthen the skills of pre-primary school teachers throughout the country, particularly on early childhood education.
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Since 2014, the Ministry of Education, Rwandan Education Board (REB), Unicef and International Education Exchange (IEE) have organized more than 40 workshops for pre-primary teachers throughout the country. These teachers are responsible for the early childhood education of approximately 30,000 children between the ages of four to six.
These photos show the how young students and teachers at Nyamiaga pre-primary school are taking a play-based aproach to learning:
Jehovanice, six, is in Class Three. Her mother, Francoise, brought her to school today for the first time and tells Vérène, “I like the school because I know my child can learn many things in a fun way. They sing, they draw and they play. The school has good facilities too.”
Laurence invites all her class to the covered play space. She is teaching children counting and naming body parts with the help of a baby doll. “Where are the ears, and how many of them do we have?” asks Laurence. Then all the students raise hands to get a chance to answer before five-year-old Florence stands up to answer.
Play builds motivation and engagement in learning. It allows children to be active participants in their education. Learning through play is important in creating high-quality learning environments that prepare children to succeed in school, lead productive lives and contribute to the peace and prosperity of their families and communities. Unicef supported the development of the play-based pre-primary curriculum, which was launched in April 2015 in alignment with the new competency-based pre-primary curriculum.
“Pre-primary education is a priority for Rwanda, said Graham Lang, Interim Chief of Education, Unicef Rwanda. “The results of the teacher trainings in play-based learning is bearing fruit and we are encouraged to continue supporting these initiatives.”