Using learning through play to empower teachers and students in Ghana

written by: Irene Pritzker


Strong partnerships and collaborating with effective organizations are key components to tackling the complex global issues that we seek to improve at the IDP Foundation (IDPF). Our partners enable us to support the development of innovative and sustainable programs, including the Techniques for Effective Teaching (TFET) program, which was created out of a partnership between Sesame Workshop, IDPF and contributions from the LEGO Foundation.

The TFET program is a teacher-training initiative that provides professional development opportunities for kindergarten and primary school teachers in Ghana through a 14-module program comprised of videos, interactive training materials, classroom learning materials, and in-person trainings.

The TFET program was created after observing the lack of training opportunities provided to teachers in the low-fee private schools participating in the IDP Rising Schools Program. Low-fee private schools are independent schools started by individuals to serve local communities without many options for good quality education. They charge affordable fees that allow them to maintain their operations, but because school proprietors lack the capacity to offer continuous professional development, teachers often rely on rote learning teaching methods. The 14 TFET modules demonstrate alternative child-centered techniques that promote children’s social and emotional development, critical and creative thinking, and learning through play. With the LEGO Foundation’s belief in play being one of the most important aspects of children’s upbringing, 300 LEGO® play boxes containing LEGO® DUPLO® bricks to encourage a playful mindset and expand creative thinking were included to support implementing learning through play in the TFET program.

The play boxes were given to all schools participating in the TFET program with accompanying trainings showing best practices for utilizing the materials effectively through lesson integration and free play. The teachers were excited to report great results, describing the various ways they have used the play materials including teaching colors and lessons about the environment. The children were equally enthusiastic to have fun materials to play and learn with while they are at school. One teacher shared how the play materials have helped facilitate inclusion in her classroom, “The (LEGO) bricks involve all pupils and they are able to explore and come up with different activities (on their own).” Another shared the excitement the materials brought to their students, “They want to use them every day!”

The LEGO play boxes and teacher training have already made lessons more engaging and fun for the students and teachers alike and has become an essential piece of the TFET program.


Irene Pritzker is the President & CEO of the IDP Foundation in Chicago, USA