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National Library launches campaign to boost children’s learning

World Vision Kenya (WVK) and the Kenya National Library Services (KNLS) have launched the Build a World of Play campaign aimed at enhancing the learning experience for early education children in Kenya and promoting a lifelong love for learning through integrated play-based activities in schools and learning forums.

Funded by LEGO Foundation to the tune of Sh3 million, the project seeks to directly benefit over 6,000 learners, teachers and close to 5,000 caregivers in Nairobi, Kakamega and Narok, with plans to extend to other parts of Kenya.

The project will also engage Government and education officers to promote integrating play with learning and support the implementation of Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) in the Country.

WVK Acting National Director Geoffrey Kativa highlighted the significance of the initiative that underlines the power of play in improving learning outcomes among early learners through the promotion of effective use of play-based activities.

“This collaborative project is an integrated tool that will incorporate County education officers, school heads, teachers and caregivers in promoting play as a critical element in teaching early years’ education. It will also ensure that the value of play for children’s holistic development and learning is widely understood and enacted in early years’ education policies and reflected in resource allocations,” he said.

The initiative will see KNLS leverage established mobile libraries to promote literacy through play and reading in different spots across the Country, through a Play-bus caravan targeting early learners, schools and parents.

Flagging off the play-bus caravan in Nairobi, KNLS Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Charles Nzivo said, “This campaign resonates well with what KNLS has been doing through reading promotion activities among children. Through partnerships, the children’s sections in some libraries have been refurbished into colourful children corners that are stocked with relevant learning materials including books, audio visual content, educational games and toys.”

He added that over the years, the organization has strived towards providing children friendly spaces and programmes in libraries and out of their Libraries through School Outreach initiative.

Led by KNLS, the caravan will bring out fun in reading and playing activities on the roadside and in local schools to creatively engage early learners through play materials and boost literacy and numeracy skills, among other foundational concepts, which can be easily taught through play to children in grade 1 to 3.

The global campaign, which is part of LEGO’s 90th anniversary celebrations, will also seek to strengthen families’ understanding of the value of play, in pre-primary settings and at home by sensitising parents and caregivers on their roles as outlined in the parental empowerment and engagement which is one of the guiding principles in the CBC.

“A number of schools are already benefiting from the project with caregivers trained to develop teaching and learning resources given the important role they play in the success of a child’s education,” revealed Kativa, adding that the project enhances the learning experience and makes work easier for teachers.

So far, caregivers have also been participating in monitoring the implementation of the curriculum, tracking performances of their children, developing the teaching and learning resources, attending schools’ events, providing a healthy and conducive environment for learning, and discussing children’s progress with their teachers.

According to a World Bank Report, Kenya marked improvement in literacy or languages, and arithmetic. Between 2016 and 2018, testing in Class III on mathematics, English and Kiswahili learning revealed improvement in all the three subjects. The share of students meeting minimum requirements increased by six percentage points in numeracy, by 16 points in English and by one point in Kiswahili.

Research reveals that play is one of the most important ways in which young children gain essential knowledge and skills and these figures could rise following implementation of the campaign.

By Michael Omondi

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