Tsogo Sun’s Moves for Life chess programme is taking the game to 31 000 learners in more than 100 schools and has trained over 900 teachers schools around the country.
In support of the proven benefits of chess as an educational tool, Susan Polgar, four-time world chess champion, says, “According to research, test scores improved by 17.3% for students regularly engaged in chess classes, compared with only 4.6% for children participating in other forms of enriched activities.
Marcel von Aulock, CEO of Tsogo Sun, says the group chose to support chess in its far-reaching corporate social investment programme as chess fits well with its strategy of promoting sport and education in our schools. “Also important is that chess is one of the government’s top 16 priority sporting codes for inclusion at school level and so it aligns closely with government’s educational initiatives.
Much of the success of the programme can be attributed to the fact that, while significant research over many years has established that chess contributes to many skillsets within a child’s development, the game is primarily fun and appealing to children – which means they’re gaining skills in maths, science and lifeskills while they’re playing. Much research backs up claims that chess improves concentration: it develops logical and abstract thinking, analytical, visualisation and decision-making skills, among others,” said von Aulock.
The Moves For Life programme has a number of sponsors across the country, including BHP Billiton, Sasol as well as Anglo American, increasing the programme’s reach and impacting over 100 schools, 900 teachers and 31 000 students. Chief Education Specialist of the Western Cape government, Naomi Meyer, is impressed by what she has seen happening with chess in schools. “I believe that chess is an important development tool during the foundation phase (Grade R to Grade 3 learners) and I aim to implement the Tsogo Sun Moves for Life chess programme in every school in the Western Cape.
The Tsogo Sun Moves for Life programme is divided into three key elements, namely MiniChess (Grade R to Grade 3), MasterMoves (nine years and older), and teacher training. It has been implemented in six provinces in which Tsogo Sun’s leisure destinations are located, reaching ten schools in the Soweto area: six in Diepsloot near Fourways: 11 on the West Rand: three in Welkom in the Free State: 10 on the West Coast and six in Mossel Bay – both in the Western Cape: two in Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal: and two in Witbank in Mpumalanga.
MiniChess impacts all learners in the class, and is part of the school timetable. The focus throughout the lessons and activities is on fun – learning through play.
Grade 5 learner at Dumezweni Primary School, Asavela Mbewana, is adamant that “chess improved my maths.” And John Rramarumo, Principal of Muzomuhle Primary adds that the Tsogo Sun Moves for Life programme goes even further and “enables learners to believe in themselves.
Mickey Scheepers, a Trustee of Tsogo Sun Moves for Life agrees, “The greatest gift you can give a child between the ages of 6 and 9 is self-confidence.” He says that the Tsogo Sun Moves for Life initiative “is fuelled by people who believe that every South African child has the potential to become a world-class citizen. Participation in chess, and in particular the Moves for Life programme, positively impacts a child’s attitude towards life: a ‚Äòcan do’ boldness is an essential element for any type of human achievement. Our partnership with Tsogo Sun is very beneficial as it is providing a massive boost to the sustainability of the initiative and lending credibility to one of the most successful educational interventions in South Africa.
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