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Play Hard, Live Free: Where Wild Play Still Rules

NPR – Eric Westervelt

“There are only a handful of these “wild playgrounds” in the country. They embrace the theory that free, unstructured play is vital for children and offer an antidote to the hurried lifestyles, digital distractions and overprotective parents that can leave children few opportunities to really cut loose. “It’s really central that kids are able to take their natural and intense play impulses and act on them,” says Stuart Brown, a psychologist and the founding director of the National Institute for Play. Children need an environment with “the opportunity to engage in open, free play where they’re allowed to self-organize,” he adds. “It’s really a central part of being human and developing into competent adulthood.” Brown says this kind of free-range fun is not just good; it’s essential. Wild play helps shape who we become, he says, and it should be embraced, not feared. Some educators advocate “dangerous play,” which they say helps kids become better problem solvers.”(more)

African Schools Keep an Eye On the Prize

Africa Renewal – Jocelyne Sambira

“A small, dusty, sparsely furnished building of mud bricks serves as a classroom for pupils at a primary school in Buterere, a town on the outskirts of Burundi’s capital. The room is packed with a sea of small bodies in khaki uniforms, some sprawling on the dirt floor trying to balance their notebooks and write at the same time. The lucky few who get desks are tightly squeezed together on the same bench, elbows touching as they scrawl notes while the teacher talks and writes on a chalkboard. The metal sheet that serves as a roof makes the room hot and stuffy. According to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), school attendance surged from 59 per cent to 96.1 per cent between 2005 and 2011. The number of girls entering school for the first time was actually higher than the number of boys…Children as old as 10 or 12 were enrolling for the first time, Concilie Nizigiyimana, a state inspector for schools in the rural province surrounding Bujumbura, the capital, told Africa Renewal. “Most of the families in the area couldn’t afford to send their kids to school,” she says. “So when school became free, we received a huge number of children. Some classes hold as many as 100 pupils for one teacher. Burundi could easily be the education poster child for the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).”(more)