Partnerships for Sustainable Community Development partnered with an outside nongovernmental organization, Play360, to create and implement an innovative project—A Place to Play, a Place to Learn: The Tanzania School Playground and Sports Project.
Partnerships for Sustainable Community Development partnered with an outside nongovernmental organization, Play360, to create and implement an innovative project—A Place to Play, a Place to Learn: The Tanzania School Playground and Sports Project. The playgrounds are part of the Tanzania Partnership Project (TPP), a long-term collaborative alliance of local and international organizations dedicated to improving local livelihoods and promoting community resiliency in Tanzania.
As part of A Place to Play, a Place to Learn, TPP Project Manager Diane Ruonavaara and Jon Racek, the executive director of Play 320, collaborated with TPP’s in-country partners to design and construct three playgrounds, a soccer field, and a netball pitch in the village of Milola in southern Tanzania. Physical education is not part of the national curriculum in Tanzania, which focuses on memorization-based learning, and when children are at home their time is usually spent helping their families with essential chores. The playgrounds establish safe environments to encourage children to practice both structured and unstructured play, as well as spaces for teachers to promote interactive learning.
Beginning in early August of 2015, Mary Malekela, the TPP in-country program officer, and Ashura Salum, the TPP site program officer in Tanzania, worked with community partners to clear the land and gather project materials. A group of ten villagers was hired as the core construction team. Brightly colored logs and tires, brought in from nearby Dar es Salaam and Lindi, were painted with animals, lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers, math operation signs, and celestial images. Metal pipes, also from local sources, became slides and a large xylophone. Volunteers of every age helped prepare the materials and assemble the playgrounds and pitches.
In an auspicious development, Maregesi Machumu from the University of Dares Salaam’s College of Education, who trained Milola school teachers how to use to the playgrounds in their lessons, later met with members of the Tanzania Ministry of Education to explain how the learning playground could be used in other Tanzanian communities.