Snakes and Ladders just got an educational revamp.
Theirworld, a children’s charity fighting for access to education, created Keys and Locks: The Education Game ahead of the virtual United Nations' General Assembly in September, an annual event for world leaders. The game highlights the education crisis facing millions of children around the world.
Players have to navigate obstacles that prevent students from going to school, such as COVID-19 school closures, living in a refugee camp, child marriage, or being forced to work.
Theirworld sent a copy of the game to 10 world leaders that the organization identified as having power to help address the educational crisis. The organization hopes that the game reminds leaders of the importance of funding education even in a post-COVID-19 world.
The game is a twist on the Snakes and Ladders classic, where players roll the dice and move along on the board, landing on spaces that either hinder or help their education.
When players land on an arrow pointing downward, they are faced with a barrier that prevents them from attending school and must slide down to the bottom of the board. When they land on an arrow pointing upward, which reflects countries that invested in pre-primary education or digital training, they can unlock educational opportunities and potential.
Before the pandemic, there were 260 million children out of school around the world, according to Theirworld. The pandemic has exacerbated the problem as it is now estimated that 1 billion students are unable to return to physical schools.
At a press conference on Aug. 4, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that the pandemic had "led to the largest disruption to education ever."
"We face a generational catastrophe that could waste untold human potential, undermine decades of progress, and exacerbate entrenched inequalities," Guterres added.
When schools and teachers around the world transitioned to online learning earlier this year, some students lacked access to the prerequisite technology and electronic resources needed.
A survey by Save the Children reported that less than 1% of students from poorer backgrounds had access to remote learning. Only 19% of students who did not classify themselves as poor had access.
"We firmly believe that quality education is the key to unlocking a child’s potential. Education should never be a game of chance," explained Theirworld Chair Sarah Brown in a press release. "But for millions of children currently locked out of school, education is just like the roll of a dice."