On December 8, an award-winning educational program created and designed by South African Marisa van der Merwe, MiniChess, was launched at the Young Women Christian Association (YWCA), Mamlaka road, in Nairobi.
The next two days saw the energetic and passionate Marisa take participants from Uganda and Kenya through an intensive level 1 training session of this unique educational program that focuses on early childhood development through chess-related activities.
This comes at a time when the Ministry of Education is in the process of overhauling our educational curriculum, that has for so long focused on training pupils to pass exams and not developing the individual holistically to be creative in meeting the ever changing demands of life.
The introduction of MiniChess, a vehicle that uses chess as an education tool, is a timely and very welcome move that will indeed steer Chess Kenya (CK) in the right direction in its drive of introducing Chess in Schools (CiS), for it prepares young minds for a fast changing world.
It is worth noting that the 13th world chess champion the legendary Garry Kasparov, the founder of the Kasparov Chess Foundation (KCF), has fully endorsed MiniChess and lauded its launch as ‘a great moment for chess’ and hopes that KCF’s dream of bringing chess into classrooms throughout the African continent will be finally realised.
“KCF Africa is extremely proud to be associated with this most worthy of all endeavours, the education of our children. Our team truly believes that participation in this program will encourage creativity, instill self-discipline and provide a feeling of accomplishment to millions of children. We hope that it will instill critical thinking skills which will in turn lead to a generation of leaders empowered to make a difference in the future,” added Kasparov.
CK’s chairman Githinji Hinga was almost breathless as he said, “Thanks Garry. This is your dream to have structured chess instruction in every classroom around the world. The educational benefits are unmatched. Thank you for sharing this dream. I wish I went through MiniChess program in my ECD (Early Childhood Development ) years, but even better, I and CK will strive to make this a reality for thousands of kids in Kenya.”
MiniChess is organised into structured lessons with detailed lesson plans and attractive project books. The learning process is broken down into small steps, building confidence while keeping it fun, as it continually links chess concepts with mathematics, science and life skills.
See you in 2016 and thanks for your readership!!
Puzzle: Find the best moves for White (Parimarjan Negi) against Black (Wesley So) as played in the AAI GM, 2011.
Solution: 1.Ba3 Bb6 2.Qh6 Rf7 3.Rxf7 Qxf7 4.Bd5 Qxd5 Qf8#