Cotlands, together with A Chance to Play Southern Africa (ACTPSA) have announced their advocacy statement to hold government accountable to upholding Article 31 of United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and Article 12 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC).
At a press briefing held in Johannesburg on Wednesday 28 May 2014 (World Play Day), ACTPSA regional co-ordinator Regina Mandikonza said that the problem is that civil society and government do not value, understand, promote and legislate for play as a right and an essential development and recreation activity as per the UNCRC’s Article 31 and Article 12 of the ACRWC.
According to the coalition, play and recreation are essential to the development, learning, health and well-being of children.
Cotlands together with other members of ACTPSA coalition hope by 2017 to have:
• Play and recreation integrated into early childhood development programmes as well as learning and health programmes.
• Designated, quality, free, safe and well-maintained play areas and recreational facilities in every community that is suitable for all children, including children with disabilities.
• National, provincial and local government meet their international and regional obligation on the right to play in upholding the provisions in Article 31 of the UNCRC and Article 12 of the ACRWC.
“If we are serious about ending the cycle of poverty and a creating a world where children are able to access all the opportunities available to them, we need to start seeing play as an essential part of their development,” said Cotlands CEO Jackie Schoeman.
Schoeman added that play is fundamental to the learning process and is the reason why Cotlands chose to adopt play-based methods in their new child care model.
“Through play children learn, develop cognitive and social skills. Therefore play is imperative to their physical and emotional wellbeing. However, by not prioritising safe places for children to play, governments in Southern Africa are denying children their fundamental right.”
According to ACTPSA, children living in urban areas are most at risk. “Parks and jungle gym areas that were created for children have been overtaken by predators. Children no longer feel safe to engage with each other or explore in open spaces which hinder holistic development,” said ACTP regional co-ordinator Regina Mandikonza.