27 Sep Regina Kgatle is changing our education system one game at a time
Inspired by Clinique’s current Difference Makers campaign that profiles six amazing women, we spoke with Regina to learn more about her much-needed initiative.
Yes, it has been something I wanted to pursue. I have been an active participant of Eskom Science Expo for Young Scientists since I was in grade 3. I then followed up by taking Information Technology in Grade 10. Instructing machines is something I have been doing since then and I have always found it interesting.
It was inspired by my upbringing. My parents owned an arcade centre. It was something that a lot of children enjoyed, we had many complaints from parents who felt like all their children do is play, and they felt that that time could be spent on school work. Being on the ground and seeing how children loved the arcades, I took it upon myself to build arcades that both children and parents would love. Arcade games that allow children to learn through play.
67games was a Not-For-Profit sister of Educade, to call upon the game developers community to help me advance the cause of teaching through play. It was birthed from the understanding that open collaboration can allow Educade to advance at a speedy rate, thus impacting many children who otherwise would not have any complementary learning tools.
It is a process known as edutainment that is grounded in the understanding that people – especially young ones –learn through play. At Educade, I look at the primary school curriculum employed by The Department of Education, and seek to design games that contain the curriculum content. I also seek to complement the employed curriculum. We have games that teach children about consent, sexuality, gangsterism and more. This content is usually minimal if covered at all at schools.
That you can never know enough. Each day presents its challenges together with its lessons.
Mostly, the misconceptions are founded in the fundamental understanding of how people learn. I seek to inspire learning. If you’re playing for instance a history game, people often think you’ll get all the teaching within the game. This is highly impossible, but what we rather seek to do, is spark interest that leads to our users to search for more.
Lack of consultation and imagination. The content itself lacks practical application in the daily lives of many South Africans. We also see the lack of imagination in our curriculums. Formal education in many forms does not speak to the daily lived experiences of many South Africans. I know I’m being a little abstract in my elaboration, but this is something that deserves its own essay. Overall, I feel like we can do better in preserving African knowledge and principles. We can do better to address the ills in our society, like xenophobia, albinism, etc. We can do way better in Science and Engineering if we are fueled by the desire to solve problems that are unique in nature to our communities and societies.
I don’t think I do this enough, but I try. We have built games that are centred around many lived experiences of South African children. In our games you will find characters like black girls with their natural hair, you will pass the beauties of South Africa like Table Mountain, you will ride cars in the village, pass across cows and stuff like that. Representation is important, thus we make sure that our graphics and art speak to it.
We also tackle problems on the ground. Rodain together with an NPO called 18 gangsterism, were part of the last submission of 67games where they made a game specifically to address gangster culture in Cape Town.Through their game, they spread awareness of how many children get recruited into gangs.
Open collaboration is in many ways better.
At 67games, we partner different people in the arts to come together and build a game that addresses problems identified by teachers and NPOs dealing with children. If you go to our website, you can submit your details to co-work with others. We have yearly game jams (hackathons for game developers) where we spend a weekend making games. We also go to schools, children hospitals and community centres to get children learning through our games. I’d recommend people to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to stay updated.
My interest lies in informing in ways that people find interesting. There’s a saying that goes, “If they can’t learn the way we teach, we teach the way they learn”.