What We Do

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Play Africa is building the next generation of African innovators and changemakers, equipping children with the skills they need to build Africa’s future and thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We do this in partnership with parents, caregivers and educators. Together, we can bridge opportunity gaps and create a more child-friendly society, in which every child can flourish.

Africa is rising. Almost 60% of Africa’s population is under the age of 25, making Africa the world’s youngest continent. But for our children to thrive in the 21st century, they must become lifelong learners, with ever-evolving skills to identify and solve problems with creativity, critical thinking, communication and empathy. Play Africa is an accessible, inclusive, public museum dedicated to preparing children to thrive in the fast-changing global economy of tomorrow.

Children need to imagine a bright future, rich with possibilities. We create memorable learning experiences that get children excited about who they are and who they can become. Our stimulating hands-on play areas spark imagination and encourage empathy, experimentation, problem-solving and a growth mindset in children, their families and educators.
We do this by empowering children with playful learning opportunities in:

  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths)
  • Creativity, personal expression and the arts
  • Ubuntu and civic engagement in a democratic society

We help build a more inclusive and cohesive society that champions children’s rights by inviting children and families to play together across historic “barriers” in warm, welcoming learning environments. Increasingly, we are leveraging technology to remove geographical barriers and expand our impact.

Parents and caregivers play an invaluable role in children’s growth. We welcome all families in an encouraging, uplifting environment — we call it a “judgment-free zone.” We offer free information on the importance of early childhood development (ECD), early stimulation and health and nutrition. Using accessible technology, we share practical ways parents can support children’s emotional, cognitive, social and physical well being. During Covid-19, this has extended to mental health and psychosocial support of parents and children in vulnerable communities.

Play Africa encourages parents to try out playful learning ideas to re-create and adapt at home. Every parent has what it takes to build their child’s brain and capacity to learn. Science shows us the first years of a child’s life are the most important foundation for later learning. Play is every child’s full-time job. It develops his or her brain to be ready to learn in school. It also teaches problem-solving, creativity, social skills and empathy. We show parents that you don’t need toys or other expensive things to do this for your child. You already have what you need! Every shared moment can be an opportunity to connect. At Play Africa, children and caring adults bond and discover together, creating positive memories that can last a lifetime.

Play Africa equips Africa’s educators with the latest thinking and research about teaching. Through teacher training, workshops, tours, public talks and partnerships, we expand playful learning in Africa’s classrooms, supporting teachers with theoretical knowledge and practical tools. Teachers become empowered to make their classrooms come alive through the playful learning techniques proven to help children become self-directed, lifelong learners.

Working with leading academics and practitioners in South Africa and around the world, we help transform outmoded education systems. We do this by deepening teachers’ knowledge of the power of play in learning. Across Africa, classrooms are becoming more dynamic, interactive and engaging as Play Africa equips educators with practical tools to implement playful learning.

We help make Africa’s cities more playful and child-friendly. We design and promote play-based interventions for optimal child development. Together, we help Johannesburg families, schools, communities and city officials understand the power of play in a child’s life.

We lead participatory urban planning initiatives with children as co-designers, because children are full and equal citizens who deserve to be seen, heard and valued in our public spaces. Design thinking and prototyping ensure our processes are locally-relevant and catalytic for cities across Africa, helping local governments, architects and urban planners identify and respond to the causes and effects of lack of play in our communities.

Play Africa creates new jobs. Leveraging B-BBEE incentives, Play Africa partners with companies to invest in skills development through structured training and work-based learning programmes for unemployed young people.
We bridge spatial divides in a society that is highly polarised and characterised by exclusion. At Play Africa, people meet in a family-friendly “town square,” overcoming the divides established during colonialism and apartheid.

We ignite the creative economy by commissioning local suppliers, including Black-owned small businesses and micro-enterprises, to create the exhibits and materials we need to support children’s playful learning.

By investing in children, everyone wins!

Play Africa sees every child as curious, capable, and creative. That’s why our children’s museum celebrates imagination and encourages experimentation, innovation and problem-solving. It’s advocacy in action. Beyond this, Play Africa:

  • Advocates for children through thought leadership on local and global platforms.
  • Encourages policymakers and other stakeholders to make greater provision for play and early learning in our urban African context.
  • Collaborates with corporates, foundations, universities and community partners to pioneer new ways to improve access to quality play and learning for all children.
  • Advises companies, cities and education systems on how to make their own spaces more child-friendly, playful and inclusive.

Play Africa uses “disruptive innovation” in low-resourced contexts to reach new audiences traditionally underserved by the education and cultural sectors.

We can’t do this alone. You can help us expand access to creative, holistic learning to more children in Africa, through digital or in-person programmes.