LEGO Foundation gives £11 million in support of international parenting initiative

The LEGO Foundation is awarding a £11 million five-year grant to international research aimed at developing and providing free, evidence-based, playful parenting support to every parent all over the world.

The grant is to the Global Parenting Initiative (GPI), led by the University of Oxford in the UK with partner universities, organisations and implementers around the world including in South Africa, Canada, Malaysia, Philippines, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, and the UK.

Leading the Oxford contribution are Dr Jamie Lachman and Professor Lucie Cluver, part of the team behind the highly successful research-based COVID-19 playful parenting emergency response, created with UN agencies and other partners, and, more recently, online support for families affected by the war in Ukraine.

Dr Lachman, Senior Research and Teaching Fellow at Oxford’s Department of Social Policy & Intervention, said, ‘We are delighted to be embarking on this playful learning journey with the LEGO Foundation and our partners. This ambitious research initiative aims to have a fundamental impact on child learning and violence prevention through the scale-up of evidence-based playful parenting programmes in the Global South.’

‘As we have learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, parents and caregivers across the world urgently need effective parenting support that is relevant to their lives and responsive to the challenges they experience. The Global Parenting Initiative will provide this.’

With the support of the LEGO Foundation, the GPI aims rapidly to develop and evaluate playful parenting programmes to improve at-scale child learning outcomes and reduce violence against children. These will be delivered through in-person, remote, digital, multimedia and hybrid platforms and have been co-developed by Parenting for Lifelong Health with children and families in the Global South. The project includes nine state-of-the-art research-within-implementation studies focused on increasing the evidence of effectiveness and scalability of these programmes.

The LEGO Foundation aims to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow and is dedicated to building a future in which learning through play empowers children to become creative, engaged, life-long learners.

Sarah Bouchie, Chief Impact Officer at the LEGO Foundation, said, ‘We are thrilled to support the Global Parenting Initiative to reach 250 million children by 2030 with evidence-based playful parenting programmes. With this partnership, we are supporting playful learning to become a priority for every child — sustained through local centres that promote research, learning, and practice. Most important to this work is the opportunity for children all over the world to engage in playful experiences that support a lifelong love of learning.’

Professor Rosina Mamokgethi Phakeng, Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Town, said, ‘We are very proud that South Africa is continuing to participate in the ongoing development of the Parenting for Lifelong Health programmes, to serve families across the Global South. UCT’s mission is to develop African creativity and innovation to benefit the whole continent and the world. We are delighted by this next step for this vigorous research programme, and we look forward to continuing to develop our strong ties to the University of Oxford.’

The aim is to embed parenting within existing government and NGO services to improve child development and learning and prevent sexual, physical, and emotional child abuse globally.

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