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Plan International Supports Right to Play in Ethiopia

Hennock, 5, during a school lesson at a Plan-supported kindergarten in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Hennock, 5, during a school lesson at a Plan-supported kindergarten in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
June 27, 2014
Plan is helping to develop early childhood education centers to support child development.

Five-year-old Hennock of Ethiopia wants to be a pilot.

“A pilot in a helicopter,” he said. “I want to go anywhere I like. I want to take my friends to the countryside!”

It’s an ambitious goal for a little boy who lives in one of the poorest countries on earth. In Ethiopia, 36 million people are struggling to survive and most children are denied their right to play because they need to fetch water, tend to crops, or care for their siblings.

The right to play, supported by Plan International through early childhood education centers, is an essential part of growing up, and one that ensures children can reach their full potential.

However, according to a 2008 report, just 4.2 percent of all Ethiopian children were enrolled in early childhood education centers. This means millions are still missing out on their right to play. And, it’s these children who are more likely to be stuck in poverty for the rest of their lives.

Plan is working to change this grim statistic. By supporting culturally relevant, age-appropriate early childhood activities, Plan is preparing children for school and for later life. To make sure these activities are sustainable for the future, early learning centers are training teachers and parents on how to best support the development of young children. Plan is working with the government to develop policies and initiatives that promote the importance of early learning and development of children.

Play is crucial for a child’s growth and is scientifically proven to help brain development. Through play, children experience fun, joy, and success. They can process and manage emotions, build social skills, learn to share, discover, explore, and get creative.

Today, thousands of Ethiopian children are getting a better start in life. Children like Hennock who, one day, may well be flying in his helicopter, taking his friends to the countryside.

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