By Deepti Shidore and Rita Atkins
The EDU Commission hosted its first Strategy Workshop online on July 8th, 2023. Over sixty representatives from twenty African Chess Federations participated, each bringing their expertise to the table. Senior FIDE officials and EDU Commission members were also present. The aim of the workshop was to promote chess as an educational tool. Commission Councillor Mr. Thabano Mothokomedi took care of the organisation.
EDU Commission Secretary WIM Rita Atkins hosted the workshop, highlighting the vision of educational chess and aiming to make it an essential tool for educating students worldwide. Chess in Education (CIE) has shown to enhance 21st Century skills, different life skills and emotional intelligence through game-based learning and peer-to-peer interaction. There are notable curriculum links between CIE and key school subjects as well. Differentiating between educational chess and competitive chess, the Secretary pointed out that the ideal CIE program would be inclusive of all students and not just a few who play in chess tournaments. Coping with defeats and analytical thinking would help improve future competencies in the youth worldwide.
It is the vision of the EDU Commission to make FIDE the global leader in CIE. The goal is to double the numbers of educators and the number of students involved in CIE in the next three years. The International Advisory Board and the CIE Development team are established within the EDU Commission to drive progress towards this ambitious goal.
The next speaker of the workshop, GM Abhijit Kunte, Member of EDU Commission, encouraged all federations to introduce CIE in their countries, stating the importance of formulating strategies that individual countries can target. He moderated a discussion in which participants recognized the need to engage policymakers and ministers to advocate for chess in primary education, and to secure financial support from multinational companies and social entrepreneurs. Providing chess equipment, training educators, establishing chess clubs and coaches in schools to promote competitiveness and active association with media are key points that were discussed.
The workshop then unveiled the new Preparation of Teachers course, which was developed by the EDU Commission, with contributions from WIM Anzel Laubscher, Boris Bruhn, Tamara Sargsyan, and Rita Atkins. Boris Bruhn, Member of EDU Commission, introduced the new course. The course aims to equip educators with the necessary skills to teach educational chess effectively through exercises, chess, and chess-like minigames. The target audience is teachers and trainers with some understanding of chess and experience working with children.
Esteban Jaureguizar, Councillor of the EDU Commission explaining the Moments of a chess class
Esteban Jaureguizar, Councillor of the EDU Commission together with Leontxo Garcia, Senior Advisor of the EDU Commission emphasized the potential of chess being a therapeutic and social tool in education. They advocated for engaging governments, influential journalists, and research groups to promote CIE, stressing the need to integrate chess into the curriculum and make it an interdisciplinary tool or a standalone subject.
Adriana Salazar, Member of EDU Commission, showcased successful examples of teaching mathematics through chess, illustrating its effectiveness in engaging students and enhancing learning outcomes. Dr. Uvencio Blanco, Member of EDU Commission, introduced a collection of books that could be used in a curriculum for a CIE program.
Concluding the workshop, WGM Dana Reizniece-Ozola, Managing Director of FIDE, repeated and further emphasized the goal of the EDU Commission to double the number of teachers and children engaged in educational chess worldwide. In her opinion the workshop was a testament to the immense potential of CIE. The interest we see globally towards the game is at its peak. With continued efforts and collaboration, chess can truly unlock the potential of young minds across the globe.