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A Powerful Learning Around You (PLAY) open day is scheduled to take place in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal Province on 24 November 2017, and will include presentations from Early Childhood Development (ECD) specialists, exhibitions by ECD training organisations and toy libraries. The DBE, in partnership with UNICEF, the LEGO Foundation and Cotlands, developed the PLAY course as a free online training course that compliments existing and formal training, and is accredited with the South African Council for Educators (SACE). The focus of PLAY is on teaching play-based learning fundamentals to early childhood practitioners and Grade R to 3 educators. Basic Education Minister, Mrs Angie Motshekga, announced the launch of the PLAY project on 09 March 2017 during a Council for Education Ministers (CEM) meeting. 

Open days will also be hosted in all provinces during the first quarter of 2018 to create awareness and to activate users to commence with their online training. The PLAY Cafés are also an initiative to assist the users to complete the course as free access to Wi-Fi and coffee will be on offer whilst PLAY co-ordinators and facilitators will be available to assist the user with any technical difficulties that they might have in navigating the platform. The PLAY Cafés are open every Thursday between 14:00 to 17:00.

The course content includes videos illustrating how to infuse teaching with play-based learning principles and activities. A host of additional activity ideas are emailed to the participants once a module has been completed.  After completion, a certificate endorsed by SACE bearing 15 CPD points enhancing educator’s professional development profile is issued. The PLAY programme aims to reach 150,000 practitioners and educators. On-line registration can be done through any mobile device or computer. This step is then followed by a five hour face-to-face orientation session.

Two DBE officials, Ms Isabell Matebula and Ms Ouma Buthane, who completed various modules of the online course, and subsequently obtained their certificates during September and October 2017, agreed that the practical modules enable the user to learn valuable information fast, free of charge and at one’s own pace. “In ECD, resourcefulness is encouraged and practitioners can create their own material through recycling and creativity which is cost-effective,” said Ms Buthane. “Our learners have a better chance at quality education if we become the champions of learning through play at an early age,” Ms Matebula explained.

With a solid foundation in the early years, children have the potential to graduate from poverty and end the cycle of dependency. Evidence shows that a play-based approach to learning allows children to better understand Mathematical and Language concepts; and to become creative, solution-oriented learners who are prepared for the opportunities and challenges of the 21st Century. The act of play performs a critical role for children to develop the intellectual, emotional, social and creative skills needed to build the foundation for human development and lifelong learning.

Contact Tel.: 011 683 7200 or e-mail: elearning@cotlands.org for additional information. Practitioners and educators are encouraged to register at: www.playsa.org.

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