Lo­cal­iz­ing Global Trends

Ed­u­ca­tion in Pak­istan re­mains dis­mal. How­ever, the global ed­u­ca­tion phe­nom­e­non, Sesame Street, is rapidly per­me­at­ing the younger so­ci­ety and de­vel­op­ing mind­sets.

Southasia - - CONTENTS - By So­nia Jawaid Shaikh

Il­lit­er­acy re­mains high in Pak­istan and it is a com­monly held per­cep­tion that peo­ple do not wish to ed­u­cate their chil­dren. How­ever, a ris­ing counter opin­ion based on re­ports and sur­veys sug­gests that many par­ents ac­tu­ally want their chil­dren to study. How­ever, due to poor stan­dards of state schools and wide­spread poverty, mil­lions of these young chil­dren re­main out of school. For those chil­dren en­rolled in gov­ern­ment schools or mis­man­aged pri­vate schools, the qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion lies be­low ac­cept­able stan­dards. In such a sce­nario, many ideas have come forth in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries to ad­dress the press­ing prob­lems of early child ed­u­ca­tion.

Although the US is a de­vel­oped coun­try, Sesame street has been an ini­tia­tive that for years has com­bined en­joy­ment and learn­ing for chil­dren and has be­come one of the most watched chil­dren tele­vi­sion shows in the coun­try. The show fea­tures hu­man char­ac­ters, pup­pets and mup­pets who to­gether cre­ate an at­mos­phere of learn­ing, fun, friend­ship and cu­rios­ity. Ini- tially started as a small morn­ing show, Sesame Street was soon adapted for road shows, ra­dio, pup­pet shows and to­day has a global out­reach through lo­cal­ized ver­sions across the world.

In­ter­est­ing lo­cal­ized adap­ta­tions of Sesame Street have ini­ti­ated de­bates and at­tracted at­ten­tion in their re­spec­tive coun­tries. In South Africa, Takalani Sesame in­cluded an Hiv-pos­i­tive mup­pet, which raised ob­jec­tions that it is a mes­sage too harsh for chil­dren but pro­duc­ers agreed that AIDS, be­ing one of the fastest grow­ing epi­demics in the coun­try, de­served the spot­light. An­other adap­ta­tion of Sesame Street was aired in Kosovo called Rruga Sesa and Ulica Sezam. Kosovo de­clared it­self in­de­pen­dent from Ser­bia af­ter a decade of blood­shed and vi­o­lence that scarred ties be­tween eth­nic Al­ba­ni­ans and Ser­bians. The pro­duc­tion team of the pro­gram had to make cru­cial de­cide over mat­ters such as al­pha­bets, lan­guage and cul­ture in or­der to cater pur­pose­fully to the au­di­ence in­clu­sive of var­i­ous eth­nic groups.

In Bangladesh, a suc­cess­ful se­ries Sisumpur ran on BTV ( Bangladesh Tele­vi­sion) with char­ac­ters that in­te­grated lo­cal cul­ture. Promi­nently Halum, a happy royal Ben­gal tiger and a cu­ri­ous girl, Tuk­tuki led the show with nu­mer­ous fun-filled, learn­ing ac­tiv­i­ties along with the sup­port of other mup­pets.

In 2011, a Pak­istani ver­sion called Sim Sim Ha­mara also went on air. The show is pro­duced by the USAID with the Rafi Peer Theatre Work­shop de­sign­ing and ex­e­cut­ing the pro­gram. Sim Sim Ha­mara is de­picted in a col­or­ful set­ting that shows a typ­i­cal mo­halla (neigh­bor­hood) com­plete with a school, homes, cy­cle re­pair shop, bus stop, gar­den, dhaba (road­side café) and lov­ing char­ac­ters. Cen­tral char­ac­ters in­clude Rani, a girl filled with in­trigue and thus lots of ques­tions, a boy Munna who is very good with num­bers and of course a Baji, who runs the café and takes care of ev­ery­body. The cast has been ar­ranged in a way to raise var­i­ous points in the so­ci­ety such as girls’ ed­u­ca­tion while the cul­tural value of arts, li­brary and gar­den­ing is pre­sented beau­ti­fully in the se­ries through set de­sign, charac-

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