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Play-Based Learning Is Key To Reducing Out of School Children, Insecurity, Says UNICEF

As Nigeria grapples with a high number of out-of-school children, the Education Specialist, at UNICEF Bauchi Field Office, Mr Abdulrahman Ibrahim Ado, has opined that playing in schools can help in addressing the out-of-school phenomenon.

Speaking with newsmen in Yola, the Adamawa State capital, in commemoration of International Day of Play, Mr Ado said that as long as there’s play, many children will be interested in going to school.

United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution designating June 11 as the first-ever International Day of Play. The resolution recognizes the importance of play in promoting education, development, and the well-being of children around the world.

The UNICEF Education Specialist says “The International Day of Play was introduced to improve the literacy and numeracy, because we realised that the level of literacy and numeracy among the children, especially when it comes to the upper basic level at the primary school is very low.

Mr. Ado stated “Scientifically, we understand that learning is taking place by play, especially among the children who are between the ages of 3 to 5 years, that’s why the day was introduced so that the teachers and parents will have an opportunity to interact and play with children and this play will become part of the activities that will improve their learning at schools.

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“If you compare a school where there’s play among children who are ages between 3 to 5, and the school where the play is not taking place, you will see that the children will be more enthusiastic and more encouraged to attend schools where there are play materials, where they will engage in different play activities with their peers and also with their teachers. So, that play is also improving their psychomotor affective and social interaction, because all these are part of the things that we can say that, yes learning is taking place”, he stated.

Also explaining how introducing play in schools could go a long way in reducing the number of out-of-school children, UNICEF Educational Consultant in Adamawa State, Mr Joel Isaiah Jutum, says “When we introduce enough play in schools, children will prefer coming to school – firstly to come and play and then, in the process of playing, they will learn rather than going to stay by the roadside, hawking or doing nothing.

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“So, this is a great medium through which we can reduce the high number of out-of-school children and improve retention. Because when we enrol them in schools, most times they drop out. Therefore, we can improve retention, and then, by retention, they will stay in school up to completion, and they can even transition to higher educational levels”, Mr Joel added.

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Mr Abdulrahman Ado allayed the fear that the play will distract the children from learning, explaining that the play that they are introducing is at critical and strategic places where it will improve children’s learning abilities.

He added “If you have observed what is taking place during our training sessions at some points you will see the children are playing with stones for counting and also at some points they are playing on how to pronounce words. All these are the kinds of play that motivate the children to learn and also fast-track the level at which they are learning.

Mr Ado also revealed that play can reduce insecurity and social vices in the future of the country.

According to him, “You know insecurity is a crime, basically this crime is happening as a result of not having education. So, as long as our children will get qualitative education, it will go a long way in reducing the rate of insecurity in the country. Insecurity and illiteracy go hand in hand, once a child has a quality education, the rate at which he will engage himself in all these vices is very minimal

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