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Play Africa launches new children’s courtroom at Constitution Hill with support from Bowmans

19 November 2019

Play Africa, a children’s museum based at Constitution Hill, today launched its new Children’s Court, an interactive exhibit that uses play to introduce children to South Africa’s judicial system.

The Children’s Courtroom nurtures children’s own concepts of themselves and their rights as secured in South Africa’s Constitution. Through facilitated play and dialogue, the programme strengthens children’s rights by introducing all children to the core values of the Constitution, the rule of law, and different ways they can make their voices heard in a democratic society.

The innovative new exhibit is made possible with generous support from leading African law firm, Bowmans.

“Together with Bowmans, we’ve created an exciting new learning environment that will ignite new career possibilities in the minds of children, while instilling core principles of the Constitution and the rule of law,” said Play Africa founder and CEO Gretchen Wilson-Prangley. “Despite South Africa’s strides towards a democratic, rights-based society, the reality is that children’s rights are routinely violated, and children remain the most vulnerable members of our society. Our Children’s Courtroom is a safe space where children can learn how to make their voices heard in a court of law, so South Africa’s democracy can thrive in future generations.”

“We are excited to partner with Play Africa in this important work. Exposing children to the justice system and teaching them about the rights and duties of citizens is an investment in their future success and that of our country as a whole,” said Fatima Laher, head of Pro Bono at Bowmans.
Retired Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron was the guest speaker at the event, who delivered remarks on the Constitution and children’s rights.

The child-scale exhibit is made of stainless steel and wood. Its several components – from the judge’s bench to the witness box – are designed to be fully modular, so it can be set up temporarily in other settings.

“Play Africa would like this exhibit to become a powerful resource for outreach programmes and for other child advocacy organisations working in South Africa,” said Wilson-Prangley.

Play Africa is a pioneering children’s museum based at the iconic Constitution Hill in Johannesburg, South Africa, a former prison complex that is now seat of South Africa’s Constitutional Court. Situated inside the Old Fort, Play Africa operates in the courtyards just 15 metres from the cell where former President Nelson Mandela was once incarcerated. As a cultural institution, its exhibits and programmes are designed to stimulate imagination, experimentation, innovation and problem-solving in children, as well as their families and educators.

“Constitution Hill is proud to be the home of Play Africa and stands behind it’s initiatives and programs,” said Dawn Robertson, CEO of Constitution Hill Development Company. “The greatest significance is that we are able to encourage community participation thus supporting the growth and development of children in the inner city for the foreseeable future.”

Play Africa is open Tuesday to Saturday, offering school groups and the general public a range of hands-on exhibits and programmes to support early childhood development (ECD) and foundation phase learning.

Its play-based learning approach encourages children to gain self-confidence while promoting creativity, critical thinking and personal expression. Since February 2018, Play Africa’s team has run facilitated programmes with more than 2,346 children in Gauteng using an early prototype of the exhibit.

Educators who evaluated the programme considered it very useful for young learners, with 98% of educators reporting that they witnessed children engaged in dialogue about the Constitution and their rights, and 93% of educators reporting that children developed greater awareness of their rights in the programme.


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