The PlayMatters project, run by the International Rescue Committee, is seeking to educate children who have been displaced by war and natural disasters with funding from the LEGO Foundation.
David Miliband, CEO and President of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and former UK Foreign Secretary, has discussed the news that the LEGO Foundation has provided $100 million (£76 million) for a project that will provide access to education for 800,000 refugee children who have been displaced by war and natural disasters.
“We know that nearly half of all refugees are children, but humanitarian funding still thinks of education as just an add-on. We need big solutions with bold ideas that put education at the forefront of humanitarian response,” he told the i. “With the LEGO Foundation’s investment in play-based learning and the IRC’s expertise in reaching the most vulnerable, this partnership has the potential to reshape education for a generation of refugee children.”
The IRC’s figures suggest that 62 million children are not in education in countries affected by war and displacement with others receiving poor-quality education because of humanitarian crises. The initiative, titled PlayMatters, intends to reach approximately 10,000 pre-school, primary school teachers and education personnel and 170,000 primary caregivers, who will be give training to engage in learning through play.
“At the time when many Western governments are in retreat from trying to solve the refugee crisis, the good news is that other governments – like Ethiopia and Uganda – are stepping up and have expressed interest in finding more durable solutions,” Miliband also said in the interview.
“Play provides comfort. It helps children to overcome traumatic experiences, and to return to the routine and normalcy of being a child,” said Thomas Kirk Kristiansen, Chairman of the LEGO Foundation. “With this new grant, the LEGO Foundation continues to address a pressing challenge of our time and change the way the world thinks about learning through play and its importance for children in crisis settings.”