The LEGO Foundation: driving education in Ethiopia and Uganda

By Leah Netabai

Through the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) ‘PlayMatters’ initiative the LEGO Foundation grants US$100mn to deliver play based learning to Africa.

Who is the International Rescue Committee (IRC)?

The IRC responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises by helping people affected survive, recover and gain back control of their futures. The grant awarded by the LEGO Foundation will promote play based, early learning solutions for pre-primary and primary school children impacted by humanitarian crises in Ethiopia and Uganda.

According to the IRC, over 62mn children remain out of school in countries affected by war and displacement with many others who do, receive poor-quality education. In the last three years education has received less than 3% of all humanitarian aid in recent years, IRC is striving to change this. 

Research shows, that play based learning experiences can build the skills needed for holistic development, mitigate the impact of adversity and support the resilience children need to thrive. The ‘PlayMatters’ initiative strives to achieve this by strengthening the resilience of children and build their social, emotional, cognitive, physical and creative skills.

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The ‘PlayMatters’ initiative in numbers:

  • Improved education outcomes for: approximately 800,000 children, 10,000 pre-primary and primary school teachers/education personnel and 170,000 primary caregivers.

  • Grant total: US$100mn 

Those in partnership include: War Child, Plan International, Ubongo, Behavioural Insights Team and Innovations for Poverty Action.

“Children in these humanitarian crises did not choose to be refugees and it is unacceptable that an entire generation is deprived of quality childhood education. We know that investing in play-based learning interventions is key to addressing toxic stress and trauma for young children in refugee settings as learning through play helps to develop social and emotional skills, builds resilience, and strengthens brain connections essential for future development,” said John Goodwin, CEO of the LEGO Foundation.

Thomas Kirk Kristiansen, Chairman of the LEGO Foundation, also added that “play provides comfort. It helps children to overcome traumatic experiences, and to return to the routine and normalcy of being a child. With this new grant, the LEGO Foundation continues to address a pressing challenge of our time and change the way the world thinks about learning through play and its importance for children in crisis settings.”

Other play based learning grants award by the LEGO foundation include:

  • US$100mn to Sesame Workshop (December 2018)

  • US$12.5mn to Education Cannot Wait (September 2019) 

  • US$100 million grant to Sesame Workshop and its partners BRAC, IRC and New York University (2018)

For more information on business topics in the Middle East and Africa, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief MEA.

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Image source: LEGO

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