The Lego Foundation Awards US $100 Million Grant to the International Rescue Committee to Bring Learning through Play to Children Impacted by Crises in Ethiopia and Uganda

The Lego Foundation Awards US $100 Million Grant to the International Rescue Committee to Bring Learning through Play to Children Impacted by Crises in Ethiopia and Uganda
The Lego Foundation
The “PlayMatters” partnership will bring the power of learning through play to nearly one million children, teachers and caregivers.

Billund, Denmark – 10 December 2019- Today, the LEGO Foundation is awarding a US$100 million grant to a consortium led by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to promote play-based, early learning solutions for pre-primary and primary school aged children impacted by the humanitarian crises in East Africa and living in Ethiopia and Uganda. This major initiative, called PlayMatters, will deliver play-based learning to children, strengthening their resilience and building their social, emotional, cognitive, physical and creative skills. The grant will be implemented in partnership with War Child, Plan International, Ubongo, Behavioural Insights Team and Innovations for Poverty Action.

“We are contributing to fulfil the international promise to children, supported by the United Nations, that every child has the right to an education and every refugee should be included in sustainable long-term solutions that help them in their future. We have to do our best to ensure it is realised,” said Thomas Kirk Kristiansen, Chairman of the LEGO Foundation. “Play provides comfort. It helps children to overcome traumatic experiences, and to return to the routine and normalcy of being a child. 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.”

Through this initiative, IRC and its partners will work in Ethiopia and Uganda, with the potential of expanding to a third country in East Africa. PlayMatters will improve education outcomes for approximately 800,000 children and reach approximately 10,000 pre-primary and primary school teachers and education personnel and 170,000 primary caregivers, who will receive training to engage in learning through play with children who have faced adversities.

“Children in these humanitarian crises did not choose to be refugees and it is unacceptable that an entire generation is deprived of quality childhood education. We know that investing in play-based learning interventions is key to addressing toxic stress and trauma for young children in refugee settings as learning through play helps to develop social and emotional skills, builds resilience, and strengthens brain connections essential for future development. Through this new initiative, we will work with teachers in the host communities, focus on innovation to ensure systemic and lasting impact, and share these approaches across aid agencies for replication. The children in these largely forgotten crises in Ethiopia and Uganda deserve the power of learning through play and the hope that it can bring for a bright future,” said John Goodwin, CEO of the LEGO Foundation.

This new initiative addresses the Global Compact for Refugees’ (GCR) request for the international community to support governments to find durable solutions for the crisis, especially as the governments of Ethiopia and Uganda, who have expressed intention to better respond to the challenge. In that regard, the partnership will focus on working closely with the governments of Ethiopia, Uganda, and a third country which have been leaders in the region to integrate refugees into national systems.

“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,” said David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee. “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.”…