2018 highlights


Tiled mosaic of clay work at our Durban workshop on 3 March 2018 thanks to the KwaZulu-Natal cluster.

It’s almost impossible to capture a year in all its diversity. Instead we’ve decided to highlight 12 key moments that shaped our path in 2018, and our journey ahead − from collaborating with the Gauteng Department of Education and running multiple workshops, through to publishing our own booklet. Read about it in our 2018 highlights report.

This work wouldn’t be possible without everyday, almost invisible interactions, conversations and collaborations with you, our members, supporters, friends and colleagues. Thank you!

Here are traces of some of this work: Download the report (1MB PDF)…

IMG_2819 (1)

Participants in the 2018 study tour enjoying aperitifs in Piazza Fontanesi in Reggio Emilia (from left): Karen Crooke, Aaron Scott Frontiera and Brooks Luscher (from American International School Mozambique in Maputo), Luciel Morgan and Nnenna Nwachuku (from Nova Pioneer group), Madri Steyn and Annalizé Blake (from KinderArk, Val de Vie Estate, Paarl), and Brendan Brady (from St Andrew’s Preparatory School in Grahamstown)


Photo from Awhi Whanau in New Zealand, a Reggio Emilia-inspired preschool that Rachel and Phil Bowyer from the KwaZulu-Natal cluster visited during their research-based sabbatical from April to June 2018. Find out more in their report.


How can ECD centres embrace the Reggio Emilia approach?

marinacastagnetti_ecdseminar_johannesburg_october-2018.jpgMarina Castagnetti – who many might remember as the keynote speaker at our 2017 conference – was out in South Africa again from 23-25 October 2018, this time as part of the Italian delegation visiting South Africa for the SA-Italy Summit, and the annual celebration of Oliver Tambo’s life.

Marina was one of the keynote speakers during the ECD seminar that took place during this summit. In describing Reggio Emilia as an “education city”, she highlighted the remarkable role parents had played and continue to play in the educational project of Reggio Emilia and spoke of the deep relationship existing between the staff of the schools, the pedagogistas, the municipality, and the community of Reggio Emilia. She posed questions about one’s first impressions as one first walked through the door of a school: “What kind of school is this? What opportunities are there for children to explore, to be listened to, to reflect on and ask their own questions?”

In reviewing ways in which early childhood centres in Gauteng could begin to transform and embrace the Reggio Emilia approach, she suggested that schools and teachers:

  • Start with the physical environment: The secret is to think differently about it, to see how it can be changed to reflect and allow for the Reggio Emilia approach to flourish.
  • Ensure that teachers (and other staff) have opportunities for ongoing professional development to deepen their understanding of the values of the Reggio Emilia approach.
  • Offer multiple opportunities for children to create and communicate through many languages of expression, and focus on the diffusion of the culture of the atelier and of learning inside the school. She gave the example of South Africa’s wonderful natural environment as a rich resource for materials to support and provoke learning. The Reggio Emilia approach is to “discover another way of working”.
  • Arrange visits by pedagogistas from Reggio Emilia to improve and develop educational practice from a theoretical point of view and thus to deepen the quality of the daily life and experiences of children in a school.
  • Collaborate in organising one of the Reggio Children exhibitions in South Africa, during which there could be opportunities for atelieristas from Reggio Children to work directly with teachers and children.
  • Strive to visit the schools of Reggio Emilia with a group of South African teachers.

Above all, she urged teachers and schools to bear in mind this question: “How do children learn, and how do we embrace that?”


Reimagine education: Reggio Emilia inspiration in Africa

reimagine education coverUPDATE: isiZulu and Sesotho versions of “Reimagine Education: Reggio Emilia inspiration in Africa” are now available!.

The Africa Reggio Emilia Alliance is very proud to have published its first booklet on the Reggio Emilia approach and how it can inspire the ways we teach and learn.

In its pages, we’ve unpacked the 12 principles* of the Reggio Emilia approach in a format that’s easy to read (and hopefully understand). We take a big-picture look at the overarching theory of each principle, give you a sense of how the principle works in practice, and end with suggestions for how you might take inspiration from this principle in your own school or teaching practice. We’ve also included images from South African schools and teachers who are inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach and working to put it into practice in their own context – just to show you what’s possible.

To make it easy to navigate, we’ve also given each principle its own unique colour and Ankara or shweshwe pattern. And true to the Reggio Emilia philosophy, we’ve tried to keep beauty top of mind in the booklet’s design – knowing how beauty can put us at ease, inspire us, and provoke new thinking or unexpected connections.

This booklet is less of a training manual and more of an invitation to take your teaching practice deeper, a provocation to relook (and maybe even rethink) the organisation of your own classroom or school.

Reimagine Education is available through AREA’s professional development initiatives – our workshops, conferences, study tours and school visits. Contact tessa@reggio.co.za for more details.

* These 12 principles are defined in Indications, a document that outlines the identity and aims of the municipal preschools and infant-toddler centres of Reggio Emilia, the principles of the approach, and essential elements of the schools’ operation. It was developed through wide community involvement and participatory consultation, as part of ensuring its guiding criteria are transparent, shared, and put into practice. Published by Reggio Children,Indications is available for purchase through the Africa Reggio Emilia Alliance.

reimagine education navigation

Navigation through the 12 principles of the approach, each designed with its own colour and Ankara or shweshwe pattern

reimagine education participation

Inside spread unpacking one of 12 principles in theory and practice, illustrated with creative work from local schools and teachers who are inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach, and exploring how it can be translated in their context

reimagine education collated patternsreimagine education back cover graphic

Commissioned by the board of the Africa Reggio Emilia Alliance
Editors: Tessa Browne and Des Hugo
Writer: Judith Browne
Designer: Kevin Shelley Davis
Published: October 2018
Pages: 48
ISBN 978-0-620-81744-8

AREA board member awarded Italian Order of Knighthood

img_3001.jpgAREA is very proud of board member Maurizio Mariano, who was awarded the Commendatore Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana (Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, Third Class, Commander) on Friday 1 June at the Italian consulate in Johannesburg. Maurizio is the first non-resident Italian to be honoured with this Order of Knighthood in South Africa.

In addition to this honour, Maurizio was recognised in Rome in May 2018 by South African Ambassador to Italy Prof Shirish Soni and Team South Africa in Italy “in recognition of [his] sacrifice and continued dedication and contribution to building a democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa”.

Main image: AREA board member Maurizio Mariano together with Gugu Motlanthe, former president Kgalema Motlanthe and anti-apartheid activist Sophia Williams-de Bruyn, celebrating Maurizio’s Italian Order of Knighthood on 1 June 2018 at the Consulate General of Italy in Johannesburg.


Maurizio (in black in the centre) being celebrated for his outstanding achievement by AREA board members (from left) Thandi Chaane, Tessa Browne, Bev Evangelides, Sifiso Thobakale, Des Hugo and Peter Lee.

Curiosity, creativity, discovery – a wrap-up of the 2017 conference

Over three days in June 2017, nearly 300 educators gathered in Waverley, Johannesburg with a sense of common purpose: to deepen their understanding of the Reggio Emilia philosophy of education; to connect with other Reggio-inspired thinkers, activists and educators; and to meditate on what more we can do – or do differently – to ensure a better future for children.

On display at the conference was the beginning of a ‘Great Forest’ – a collaborative project and exhibition looking at how children see the rights of trees, as a lens into how they see their own rights. Six schools and 1 NGO participated in the pilot – from Lesedi la Kreste in Orange Farm to Clare Ellis Brown Pre-Primary in Durban. Our hope is that the project will grow into an exhibition on children’s rights, to be hosted at Constitution Hill.

Jozi through the eyes of a child

“A town or city is a complex system of relationships intersecting on several levels. Towns grow and change. They are organisms predominantly shaped by the people who live there. Children and young adults are a significant part of a town or city. Yet, more often than not, their impressions and ideas are not given sufficient attention.” – Reggio Padagogik Austria

With this in mind, Reggio educators in Johannesburg facilitated a tour of the city for children between three and six years old with the aim of finding fresh and creative ways to understand “Jozi”.  Children’s impressions were gathered through photos and notes (thoughts, insights and associations) and were then artistically interpreted by them in the forms of poems, drawings, songs and sculptures.

13307210_906447606147510_5638312601915312548_nWe want all children to become researchers and document their experiences of the city with the ultimate aim of being part of solving some of Jozi’s many challenges.

We invite you to join our Facebook group: Jozi through the eyes of the child and engage with our ideas to get inspired to join the movement.

For more information, please contact Lindi Bell

Reggio conference – Jozi

Each year, the Africa Reggio Emilia Alliance hosts its conference, with speakers from all over the world passionately building the case for Reggio-inspired education in all schools. The conference – 28-30th June – is jam-packed with child-led teaching and learning ideas.   There is not much time left to sign up – please do so soonest – admin@reggio.co.za.