Two years ago Sarah began her journey as a teacher and Right To Play coach. She was 20 years old and had just received her degree in education. As a new member of the Kasubi Cou Primary School's teaching staff in Rubaga, Uganda, Sarah participated in Right To Play's play-based teacher training programme where she learned how to use games, sports and other playful activities as a teaching tool inside and outside the classroom. But, merging her formal education with her newfound play-based learning approach proved to be challenging.
In Uganda, traditional teaching methods are conservative and separate play and education are seen as mutually exclusive entities. As a former student and as a teacher, Sarah was steeped in this approach. Replacing the formal student/teacher relationship with an inclusive one that put play at the centre of children's learning did not come naturally to her and it was only through her students' love of the activities that she understood how powerful play truly is.
"Play is important because it empowers children. It teaches them about responsibility on the field. It helps them to learn about themselves on and off the field, inside and outside of the classroom. I am motivated to come and see the impact of the games, and as a result I have become confident in front of my students," Sarah explains.
Now Sarah cannot imagine teaching her lessons without incorporating fun activities into them and enjoys using play in every aspect of her curriculum. By putting her student's needs before her own, Sarah is not only teaching using games, but she has also experienced how games are helping shape children's lives.
"Play has kept children in school and actually raised attendance," Sarah says. "They actually enjoy school and learning and I have yet to see a student of mine leave. Play also improves children's concentration and performance in class — it relaxes their minds and teaches them in a creative way. They develop an understanding for certain subjects in ways that they can remember, because they associate learning with having fun. Without play, I wouldn't know how to teach," she adds.
Playing with her students on the field is also no longer a challenge for Sarah - and the field has instead become a second classroom:
"As a teacher and a person I have become empowered. I have changed physically and personally. Right To Play has shown me that I can play and it is fine to let go and have fun. I am thankful for what the organisation has shown me about myself and what it will continue to teach me."