- Written by Queen Munguti for Kenyakidz
Kenyan children can raise their self esteem and improve their academic work by taking part in activities that help engage their brain activities such as playing chess.
“Chess is more than just a board game; it helps raise children’s self esteem and also has academic benefits such as helping them plan their class work and encourages gender neutrality,” said Robert Omwenga, a chess trainer at All Saints Cathedral School and a certified as a chess developmental instructor by World Chess Federation.
“It helps children feel proud that they are good at something and it also enhances their memory and concentration in class,” he said.
His statement is supported by, Peter Dr Dauvergne of the University of Sydney and chess master, who wrote a paper on the topic titled; The Case for Chess as a Tool to Develop Our Children’s Minds. He said that the board game is an effective tool because it challenges minds of students teaching them how to plan and the consequence of decisions.
“Chess challenges the mind of a child despite their background or gender, it can help teach them the importance of planning and the consequences of decisions while at the same time how to concentrate, how to win and lose gracefully, how to think logically and efficiently, and how to make tough and abstract decisions.”
For Mr. Omwenga, one of the challenges he faced when he introduced Chess at the school was getting girls interested in the game. “Many of them felt as if it was a boy’s game and that they would not be good at it but by partnering with a female colleague, it encouraged them to take part and now the girls’ team is better than the boys’ in terms number of trophies and tournaments won.”
But he still feels that the game does not create appeal to all because it is considered an elitist activity thus some children from poor background may avoid playing it.
“I want to get more children from different economic backgrounds interested in the board game and remove the elitist associated tag with it because I believe it should be incorporated into our education curriculum because its benefits exceed the sporting aspect.”
Other than All Saints Cathedral, Mr Omwenga trains chess at Madaraka Primary School and Newhom School for free and takes them to chess tournaments and events.