The Kings and Queens of Kagoma Gate: Children Making Their Moves out of Poverty

In: Chiselled Horizons: A Multi-Cultural Approach to Visual Literacy

Chess is creative, analytical, and spatial. Chess fosters engagement, connectivity, and visual literacy. Chess builds personal identity, executive function, and cultural diversity. Emerging from a military concept 1600 years ago, the game gives participants the opportunity to fully engage with peers and adults on a tactical, yet creative field. The unique, empirically validated approach of MiniChess™ develops a math sense on the chessboard with chess pieces as tools and squares as a textbook, bringing higher order thinking skills and reasoning abilities to learners in Africa. In remote villages, where children often grow up with no games or toys, chess is not only a vehicle for learning, but also an opportunity to engage the modern world. Learners gain confidence to go into unfamiliar circumstances, speak English with strangers, and make personally responsible decisions. Gender equity in this culture becomes a nonissue as girls and boys become partners and competitors. MiniChess™ is a licensed academic programme for 5-9 year olds integrating social skills, personal growth and creative thought. Management skills become a focus of playing and working in both math and chess. The schoolroom becomes the literal space for newly found language and conversation development, while an inner space of visualization, fantasy, and emotion begins to be acquired and nurtured. The chess culture of academic interplay develops self-reliance as students continue their education away from the village as they move on to the secondary level. The MiniChess™ program is pedagogy of culture, academics, and personal development for learners worldwide.