BRAC Centre at the capital’s Mohakhali went festive with children cheering and enjoying themselves doing a range of creative activities today on Wednesday, 7 December. They came with their parents and caregivers at a programme organised to celebrate the “BRAC Play Lab” model. BRAC Institute of Educational Development (BRAC IED), which developed this innovative model, organised the event as a part of celebrating 50th anniversary of BRAC, and 90th anniversary of LEGO Foundation – BRAC’s funding partner.
One of the largest development organisations of the world, BRAC, has established and supported its partners to establish play labs following the “BRAC Play Lab Model” so far in Bangladesh, Tanzania and Uganda. This model has been developed with funding from the Denmark-based child development organisation LEGO Foundation.
The children participated in diverse plays in the event, such as, making clay objects, drawing, learning through pictures, muppets, and word and number games. The event also showcased a research-based display of a range of traditional plays and games of Bengali and ethnic minority communities of Bangladesh.
The event was attended among others, by social media influencers of the country, cartoonists and artists Morshed Mishu, Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy and Masuda Khan and magician Asif Asgar. They spent time with the children and participated in many activities.
Dr Erum Mariam, executive director, BRAC IED, and Kristine Morch, senior programme analyst, LEGO Foundation, were also present at the programme.
The Play Lab Model assists usually 1-5 years old children to learn through diverse play-based activities. The BRAC Play Lab model is particularly community-based, of high quality and cost-effective, so that joyful learning opportunities can be created for children with socioeconomically constrained situations. This model follows a play-based curriculum, for developing social-emotional learning, self-regulation, language, playfulness, creativity, empathy and problem-solving skills in children. The play labs are facilitated by “play leaders” who are local adolescent girls and young women and extensively trained in their facilitators’ role.
Apart from BRAC operated Play Labs, the organisation has provided technical assistance to the Bangladesh government to establish 400 Play Lab centres in 32 upazilas (sub-districts) of nine districts with over 25 thousand children participating. On the other hand, BRAC is running 656 play lab centres in Bangladesh, Tanzania and Uganda involving around 11,500 children.
BRAC has also developed an especially designed “humanitarian play lab” model for children in humanitarian emergency settings in conflict or post-conflict zones. This model is currently being implemented in the camps of Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar district. BRAC is also operating such context and culture specific play labs in Uganda for children from refugee families taken shelter from neighbouring countries.
The humanitarian play lab model explores the therapeutic dimensions of play to foster resilience and healing process among the survivor children. The humanitarian play labs provide the Rohingya children with a space to play and express their emotions freely which, in turn, helps them feel safe. The design of these play labs reflect Rohingya culture and nurture children's spontaneity.
A global survey has found that 84% children want their parents to spend more time playing with them. Specialists observe that learning through play is a critical component in early childhood development and education. The BRAC Play Labs are built in a cost-effective process with locally available resources and reusable materials reflecting the local culture and language, and socio-economic and geographic contexts. Local community and parents are closely involved in the play lab centre operation.
The LEGO Foundation launched the #BuildaWorldofPlay campaign early this year on the occasion of its 90th founding anniversary. BRAC, as its partner, has joined the campaign, also as a part of its 50th anniversary celebration, in Bangladesh, Uganda and Tanzania focusing on the local context.