“The children of any nation are its future. A country, a movement, a person that does not value its youth and children does not deserve its future,” declared Minister Motshekga after she announced plans to make learners learn through playing.
Addressing a conference at St George’s Hotel and Conference Centre in Pretoria, Minister Motshekga invited South Africans to support “the power of play.”
She announced that the power is a learning tool for a powerful future. “The play-based approach to learning is well-defined as a process for learning that is intrinsically motivated, enjoyable, freely chosen, non-literal and safe,” she said.
Minister Motshekga argued that “experts worldwide” have acknowledged that “today’s children need more than the traditional 3-Rs (reading, writing and arithmetic) to prepare for 21st-century opportunities.”
With that, she pointed out that the aim of play-based learning is to ensure that South African children gain the life skills needed to be successful “in an increasingly complex, changing, competitive, and interconnected world.”
She added that the implementation of the National Curriculum Framework in ECD (Early Child Development) centres requires play to be the main method used for teaching and learning.
“Play is fun, and young children learn through play. The implementation of the National Curriculum Framework encourages practitioners in all ECD settings to expose children to well-structured play.
“Play is a process which allows children to learn about themselves, their environment…other people in their environment, and how all these aspects relate,” added Minister Motshekga.
According to the Minister, lack of consistent implementation of play-based learning approaches in the early learning and development programmes is one of the major challenges being identified in the implementation of quality early learning programmes for children from birth to nine years.
“When children play, they become actively involved in activities, they take control and display that they have an ability to solve problems.
“The role of adults is to guide and direct them when they do things in their environment. Play should be the basis for facilitating learning and development in all ECD settings,” she proclaimed.
She further proclaimed that it is exciting to transform playing and make it play a role in the cognitive development of children.
Having said that, the Minister announced that teachers will be taught the new skills of teaching learners via play.
“In the new teaching paradigm,” she said “learners are taught to play but, not for its own sake. Learners play to learn, in order to create something that is both fun and educational at the same time.
“This is completely a whole new ball game – what ICT innovators call ‘Gamification.'”
“Play is essential to lay a solid foundation for learning, on which subsequent levels of learning is built,” Minister Motshekga continued.
“The right to play is inherent to the learning, development and well-being of all children, including children with disabilities…children learn through play the skills they will apply to more complex tasks.”
She specified it’s important for the Department of Basic Education to encourage teachers and get them use different teaching styles to strengthen learning.