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Play policy push in South Africa

On 31 May 2017, the national play advocacy body, A Chance to Play Southern Africa (ACTPSA) launched its new campaigning document, The Child’s Right to Play: a policy brief for South Africa, in Johannesburg. Adrian Voce reports on the document’s launch, and on what it aims to achieve.

‘Play is essential to children’s holistic development and wellbeing, yet children in Southern Africa are being deprived of their right to play through poor socio-economic and socio-political conditions, specifically through factors such as poverty, urbanisation and child safety concerns’, says the play advocacy body, A Chance to Play Southern Africa (ACTPSA). ‘Underpinning this neglect of the right to play’, it says ‘is the limited knowledge on the benefits of play, found among government, parents and communities’.

Play is the most important activity of childhood – yet the one that adults neglect the most!

A Chance to Play Southern Africa

When the South African Government signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child (UNCRC) and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC), it became responsible to meet certain obligations to provide for the best interests of all children. ACTPSA commissioned a policy document to review the status of the right to Play in Southern Africa (Article 31 of the UNCRC and Article 12 of the ACRWC).

Research lacking

Yet research into how the South African government is engaging with this right, and planning and allocating resources accordingly, has been sorely lacking. The PPB (Play Policy Brief) launched on 31 May aims to provide a common ground from which all parties can begin to engage and plan a way forward.

The launch event at the Children’s Memorial Institute, Braamfontein, Johannesburg, included a presentation by Senior Landscape Architect of GIBB Engineering and Architecture, Lizelle Wolmarans, who has been involved in the development of several playgrounds. This presentation helped us to understand play in a contemporary manner, and addressed new ways of thinking about designing play spaces in an urban environment. The event also featured a rigorous interrogation of the PPB by ACTPSA board member, Cynthia Morrison, and an overview of the organisation’s current position and activities by programme co-ordinator, Jane Crewe.

Children’s voices

Attendees at the event came from a variety of backgrounds including children’s rights organisations, government departments, funding bodies, housing companies and NGOs, who provided a range of observations and comments on the policy briefing, the current state of play in the country and ideas for a way forward. Most notable was the eagerness to engage with children in order to better understand their experiences, and finding a collective strategy for their voices to be represented in all spheres of planning.

Adrian Voce

Main photo: andy carter
Inset photo: ACTPSA

A Chance to Play in South Africa (ACTPSA)

A Chance to Play Southern Africa (ACTPSA) is the co-ordinating office for a coalition of partner organisations from the SADC region including South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Lesotho. The coalition advocates for the Child’s Right to Play and actively promotes greater access to play for children of all ages.

ACTPSA’s core focus is on promoting the child’s right to play throughout Southern Africa.

Visit the ACTPSA website here

Download the Play Policy Briefing Play Policy Brief here


Author: Adrian Voce

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