Play Africa, Southern Africa’s pioneering children’s museum and educational makerspace based at Constitution Hill, has announced the results of its 2022 STEM Seeds programme supported by the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA).
The STEM Seeds programme was created to help practitioners and educators in the early childhood learning phase to develop their skills and build the confidence they need to use playful approaches to introduce STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) and climate change awareness in their classrooms.
Play Africa conducted capacity development sessions and distributed resources to help educators use PLAY as an active, meaningful and socially interactive way of learning that helps children develop new capacities for deeper understanding, critical thinking, and creative problem solving. The power of learning through play also helps to ignite a love of STEM from childhood, unlocking new pathways to STEM careers for all children.
The STEM Seeds resource manuals are packed with practical, easy-to-try techniques and activities using everyday items and up-cycled materials like bottle tops, boxes and empty yoghurt containers, making it a viable option for communities with financial limitations. Importantly the curriculum was designed to work alongside South Africa’s National Curriculum Framework for children from birth to four years (NCF) and the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS). The ideas and approaches in Play Africa’s STEM Seeds support the development of key skills from both documents.
With the funding from the DBSA, Play Africa engaged over 671 practitioners in Gauteng, Western Cape, KwaZulu Natal and Mpumalanga, conducted in-person and online training with 180 practitioners and distributed over 1023 educator resource manuals between September 2022 – March 2023.
671 practitioners engaged
180 educators trained
1023 educator resource manuals distributed
385 teaching and classroom enrichment resources
“The information covered in the STEM seeds learning for young children and how this was practically demonstrated by the Play Africa team truly brings me great joy as a play-based learning advocate and ECD practitioner,” says Debbie Cockrell, Chairperson and Operations Manager of Slovo Centre of Excellence, one of the STEM Seeds programme partners. “At a community based level, it still represents the best way to train, show and demonstrate with hands-on activities, how these concepts can be implemented by each practitioner in [his]her classroom setting.”
“The DBSA believes that helping those who are less fortunate is the true essence of humanity, and as an organisation, it strives to serve the needs of its community. Investing in the emotional, social, and physical development of young children is crucial for their overall development and future well-being as adults. This is why it is important to understand the need for such investment ” says Bathobile Sowazi, Acting Group Executive Communications, Marketing and Events.
“The DBSA is committed to supporting the South African government’s goals as stated in the National Development Plan 2030, particularly in achieving high-quality education in language, maths, and science for all learners. Additionally, the DBSA supports the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 4, which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”
“A child’s early years are a never-to-be-repeated window of opportunity for learning and brain development, that is why we value play-based learning to prepare children to be school ready, and to kick off a future of lifelong learning,” says Rongedzay Fambasayi, Managing Director of Play Africa. “We are hugely grateful to partners such as DBSA for their investment in South African educators in the foundational early childhood learning phase. The financial support enables us to reach and impact the lives of children in low-resourced communities – ensuring that no child is left behind”.
We welcome new partners to take the STEM Seeds programme to the next level of impact, which includes translating it into two additional South African local languages and making it more accessible through Play Africa digital channels such as the WhatsApp chatbot.
Watch our Impact Video HERE