Afghanistan: UN board game to raise children's awareness of peace

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

KABUL, 1 August (IRIN) - Sitting under a tree in the outskirts of the capital Kabul, Sameh and his friends talked openly about very adult issues such as human rights, child kidnapping and landmines as they played a new UN-designed game entitled "The Road to Peace".

"It is a nice game. It is informative and entertaining," Sameh said, pointing to the colourful game illustrated with text and numeric steps.

"We have many physical games, but this is good for information and also it's mobile and can be played everywhere," the 13-year-old primary school pupil added.

The United Nations in Kabul designed the new board game to raise Afghan children's awareness on the peace and reconstruction process taking place in their country.

According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), since 21 July at least 10,000 copies of the board game had been produced in Dari and Pashtu languages and distributed to many disadvantaged children around the country.

"The game is aimed at 10 to 12-year-old children. It highlights some of the steps needed along the road to peace and reconstruction of Afghanistan," Martin Battersby, an information officer with UNAMA, explained.

"The Road to Peace" teaches young and old about key events of the peace process, from the signing of the Bonn Agreement in December 2001, through the Emergency and Constitutional Loya Jirgas, to the efforts to reconstruct, improve education and advance health services, Battersby added.

In the game very short texts describe activities and events that are symbolic of the Afghan peace process and illustrations by an Afghan artist take players through positive and negative situations where they are either "rewarded" or "penalised" depending on which situation they are faced with.

But despite the attraction of the game, locals in illiterate rural areas find it difficult to understand a game with texts and numbers.

"It is very good, it inspires the children, but will not be very effective in some areas with no literate person to guide the kids," said Mesbahullah, an instructor at a primary school in Paghman district of Kabul.

UNAMA said so far the response had been positive and the game seemed to be useful on many different levels.


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