• Why Divin is Playing Games in Math Class

    By Fred Hirwa​

    Divin_With_Classmate_Website_Large_Banner.pngDivin and his classmates play outside

    "Using games in teaching helped me identify children, like Divin, who are intelligent but not motivated to exhibit their knowledge and let it shine," says Marthe, the math and science teacher at the GS Cyivugiza Primary School in Kigali, Rwanda. "Divin is always present now, because school has become an enjoyable place for him."

    The once shy and reserved eight year old agrees. "Play makes me learn faster and understand my lessons easier," says Divin. His favourite game to play during math class is: Organized Basket, a numeracy game that helps him learn addition and subtraction skills.

    When Divin and his classmates play Organized Basket, he likes to help out and be a group leader. To play the game, Divin and his classmates are divided into teams. Each team is given two baskets and a set of cards—each card featuring a math equation and the equation's answer. The answers to the math equations written on the cards are either right or wrong.

    1. Divin outside his classroom at the GS Cyivugiza Primary School in Kigali, Rwanda_Photo 2.jpg
    Divin outside his classroom at the 
    GS Cyivugiza Primary School in Kigali, Rwanda

    The children place the baskets and the deck of cards at one end of the classroom and then, the children line up in their teams at the opposite end of the room. On the teacher's command: Go!, one child from each team hops to their baskets, takes a card from the deck, reads the math equation out loud and determines if the answer to the equation is correct or not. Then, they toss the card into the appropriate basket: o​ne basket is for the correct math equations; one is for the incorrect math equations. The game requires that the participants have to think quickly. When the game is over, the teacher reviews the cards and the math equations with the students.

     "Our teachers use games to help us learn our lessons in school," adds Divin. "Sometimes we get to run. It's so fun and it makes me more interested in the lessons. And I think faster."

    Reacting quickly, leading others and being outspoken are new qualities for Divin. Five years ago, when he and his identical twin brother Yves enrolled in nursery school, the only way teachers could tell the two apart was by their performance in the classroom. Yves was confident, social and one of the top three performers in his class. Divin was shy, reserved and doing poorly in all of his subjects—and everybody knew. With over 2000 children in the school, this deeply affected Divin's self-esteem and he started to withdraw inside himself. Slowly, over time Divin began to believe he was inferior to his classmates and would never be as good as his brother. He no longer wanted to come to school and stopped trying to do well in his classes. Divin barely passed Grade 2.

    Identical twin brothers Divin (R); Yves (L)_Photo 3.jpg
     Identical twin brothers, Yves and Dirin

    Then in 2015 when Divin was in Grade 3, Right To Play's Play for the Advancement of Quality Education (PAQE) programming was introduced in his school. Trained in Right To Play's play-based methodology of learning, Marthe infused her lessons with fun and inclusive games. Because of Divin's love of playing, his curiosity as piqued immediately. Motivated by each class's learning games, he began to participate, collaborating with his classmates to create and generate ideas and as a result, learn and retain the lessons.​

    Recently, he scored 67 out of 70 on a math test.

    No longer shy, Divin is happy and active, expresses himself easily and with confidence and keeps up with his brother on the playground and in school.  


    Right To Play's Play for the Advancement of Quality Education (PAQE) programming launched in 2015 in eight countries with financial support from the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada. In Tanzania, Rwanda and Mozambique, PAQE is further supported by the LEGO Foundation and uses Right To Play's play-based approach to improve learning outcomes for children and youth aged 2 -15 years through a sustainable and replicable child-centered, play-based learning model. ​