For the Global Thinker

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sesame Street in Afghanistan

There's a headline I thought I'd never read...

Singing, dancing and barking are out, but Sesame Street is teaching Afghan children to count, read and write...


"In a country with an extremely young population and an education system that is not up to standard, then reaching millions of kids through television seems to us the way to go," said Saad Mohseni, chief executive of Moby Media.

Also present in the Afghan version is the social activism that once caused consternation in parts of 1970s America with its portrayal of a racially harmonious inner-city neighbourhood. For a film about a girl's first day at school, the Afghan production team deliberately chose a character from the Hazara community, a much put-upon minority in a country where there are growing fears of ethnic fragmentation.

Sherrie Westin, vice-president of Sesame Workshop, said the programme's daily mini-documentaries about the daily lives Afghan children "celebrate diversity and introduce children from Afghanistan's various provinces to each other".

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