SA Journal of Education, Volume 40, Supplement 2, December 2020

From traditional learning to modern education: Understanding the value of play in Africa’s childhood development

F. Taiwo Ogunyemi, Elizabeth Henning


Rhymes, poetry, stories, wrestling, music and dancing were essential cultural elements through which childhood play was promoted in traditional Africa. “Modernisation” brought about by colonialism led to distortion and decline in the use of traditional play for childhood education in many parts of Africa. This work assessed the value of play in Africa’s childhood education, using documentary analysis and a survey of views from South African and Nigerian childhood educators. The documentary analysis involved a review of existing research to give an overview of traditional play in Africa, while survey data generated from 62 respondents in South Africa (SA) and Nigeria (Nig) were used to illustrate the findings of the review. Traditional African play, when properly deployed, could enhance children’s physical, mental, social and emotional development. This study identified 5 major obstacles to the integration of traditional and modern forms of children’s play. It therefore calls for concerted efforts by policymakers, educators and parents to address the challenges associated with the identified obstacles within a trado-modern paradigm.

ORCiD iDs of authors
F. Taiwo Ogunyemi -
Elizabeth Henning -

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