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BRAC Play-Based Learning Centers named a top innovation for global education

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The innovative learning model, which serves Rohingya refugee children living in Bangladesh, was highlighted by Finnish education nonprofit HundrED


HELSINKI, FINLAND — BRAC’s Play-Based Learning Center model, designed to bring high quality learning opportunities to Rohingya children living in the humanitarian context of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, was this week named one of the world’s 100 most inspiring innovations in education by HundrED, a global education nonprofit, at its annual Innovation Summit.


BRAC, a Bangladesh-based global development organization and one of the earliest responders to the Rohingya humanitarian crisis, designed the Learning Centers to cater to the unique needs of Rohingya children, who make up over half of the more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees who have fled extreme violence in Myanmar since August 2017. The model incorporates contextualized features drawn from Rohingya culture; linkages to critical humanitarian services like health, nutrition, and pyscho-social support; and an emphasis on learning through play.


Selected from a pool of more than 2,000 innovations, the Play-Based Learning Center model was chosen for its innovative approach to ensuring quality, low-cost learning opportunities for some of the world’s most marginalized children.


“We are so proud that our innovative model to provide playful, high quality education to Rohingya children was chosen,” said Devon McLorg, Director of Education at BRAC USA, the North American affiliate of BRAC. “It’s a recognition of the importance of ensuring children everywhere, even in the most difficult humanitarian contexts, have a chance to learn.”


HundrED, whose core goal is to help spread good practices in education and ensure every child has the opportunity to flourish, highlights 100 innovations each year that are altering the landscape of education globally. To this end, its in-house research team identifies, reviews, and interviews hundreds of leading innovations in the education sector. The ideas are then independently reviewed by education experts and thought leaders from the HundrED Academy and evaluated based on their originality, impact, and scalability.


“This year’s list captures the wave of education and presents an opportunity to see the most innovative, impactful and scalable examples from across the world,” said Jessica Spencer-Keyse, Head of Research at HundrED. “It shows how the future of education is heading towards a more holistic, facilitator-based model, which focuses on wellbeing, social skills, and gender equity in a really meaningful way.”


The Play-Based Learning Centers drew inspiration from BRAC’s Play Lab model, developed in partnership with the LEGO Foundation, which is an early childhood development model for low-resource settings that emphasizes play as a crucial driver of learning and development. BRAC currently operates Play Labs for children ages 3-5 in Tanzania, Uganda, and elsewhere in Bangladesh.


Following the HundrED Innovation Summit, LEGO Foundation CEO John Goodwin applauded BRAC’s thoughtful adaption of the model in new contexts. “We are very proud of our co-development of the Play Labs project, and it is great to see that BRAC is being proactive around adapting this model to new cultural settings to enable scaling.”


The Play-Based Learning Centers in Cox’s Bazar, which are BRAC’s first major foray into education in emergencies, build on the organization’s expertise as the largest private, secular education provider in the world, with over three decades of experience in the sector and more than 11 million primary and pre-primary school graduates from eight countries around the globe.


Currently, BRAC reaches nearly 30,000 children with its 400 Play-Based Learning Centers in Cox’s Bazar, with plans to continue ramping up efforts to ensure the 500,000 refugee children living in the camps and settlements have access to quality learning opportunities.


It also aspires to grow the model beyond the humanitarian setting of Cox’s Bazar.


“Our goal is to develop a rigorously-tested, flexible, play-based learning model that can be contextualized to other humanitarian or emergency contexts around the world,” said McLorg. “We have learned that, in addition to supporting cognitive, socio-emotional, and fine and gross motor skills, play is therapeutic for children in emergency and disaster contexts, especially those who have experienced severe trauma.”


This marks the second year in a row that HundrED has identified BRAC as a key innovator in education, following the selection of BRAC’s boat schools as one of the 100 most inspiring innovations in 2018.


Other top innovations selected by HundrED this year span the breadth of the education sector, including college preparation programs, learning evaluation and measurement tools, alternative school models, technology initiatives, and educational media projects.


To share the selected ideas, HundrED has packaged each innovation on a free online platform so that teachers, parents, students, policymakers, nonprofits, and other leaders in education can apply the innovations in their communities. Each of this year’s selected innovations, including BRAC’s Play-Based Learning Centers, can be found at




Notes to the Editor


About BRAC

BRAC is a global leader in developing and implementing cost-effective, evidence-based programs to assist the most marginalized people in extremely poor, conflict-prone, and post-disaster settings. These include initiatives in education, healthcare, microfinance, women’s and girls’ empowerment, agriculture, human and legal rights, and more. Born in Bangladesh, BRAC today reaches more than 120 million people in 11 countries. Learn more at



Based in New York, BRAC USA is the North American affiliate of BRAC. BRAC USA provides comprehensive support to BRAC around the world by raising awareness about its work to empower the poor in 11 countries and mobilizing resources to support programs. BRAC USA works closely with its international counterparts to design and implement cost-effective and evidence-based poverty innovations worldwide. Learn more at


About HundrED

HundrED is a Finland-based nonprofit organization that discovers, researches and shares inspiring innovations in K12 education. HundrED focuses on celebrating and empowering all stakeholders to create positive change in education, striving for inclusivity and openness. Grounded in robust research, HundrED shares ideas that have been identified as innovative, impactful and scalable. Learn more at


Please direct all inquiries to Emily Coppel, Communications Manager at BRAC USA, at [email protected]

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