Sesame Workshop Partnership in Afghanistan

Featuring the Muppets from Sesame Street, original Afghan children’s songs, games, and stories, Sesame Garden educates young children across the country while also raising awareness and motivating positive new behavior.

A Project of
Afghanistan, Sesame Workshop, US State Department

Sesame Workshop is proud to work with Equal Access International to create a radio series that not only seeks to educate and prepare children for a lifetime of learning, but does so in a way that utilizes the most impactful and effective form of media in Afghanistan. With less than two-thirds of Afghanistan’s children enrolled in primary school, Baghch-e-Simsim provides content that is critical to children’s education countrywide.

H. Melvin Ming – CEO and President, Sesame Workshop

EAI’s partnership with Sesame Workshop is entering the seventh season of the successful Baghch-e-Simsim (Sesame Garden) radio series to engage and educate pre-school and early grade children, teachers, and caregivers in Afghanistan. Sesame Garden features the world famous ‘Muppets’ from Sesame Street, localized characters Zari and Zeerak, along with original Afghan children’s songs, games, and stories to address a range of educational issues including literacy and numeracy; knowledge about health and safety; social reasoning and attitudes towards others.

With less than two-thirds of Afghanistan’s children enrolled in primary school, Baghch-e-Simsim (Sesame Garden) provides content that is critical to children’s education countrywide. Rural residents, especially young girls, have limited access to formal education systems, and the Sesame Garden radio programs allow these children to access literacy and numeracy content via a medium, which is available to more than two-thirds of the rural population.

PROJECT ACTIVITIES:

Research demonstrates that Baghch-e-Simsim television and radio programming makes a positive impact on key learning outcomes across curricular areas for viewers and listeners. Broadcast on television and radio helps reach audiences in both urban and rural areas. The addition of the first Afghan Muppet character, Zari, to the cast in Season 5 exponentially increased the resonance of the program. This 6-year-old female character supports the whole-child approach of Baghch-e-Simsim and strengthens the crucial theme of girls’ empowerment. Beginning in Season 6, Zari was joined by her 4-year-old brother Zeerak, who looks up to Zari and sees her as a role model.

The overall goals of Baghch-e-Simsim are to:

Distribute messages that promote early childhood education, respect and understanding, and national identity; and counter violent extremism.
Build local Afghan capacity to produce high-quality, entertaining, and educational television and radio programming that effectively addresses children’s critical needs.  

In a country where there is little effective children’s television and radio programming and limited expertise in child development, Baghch-e-Simsim is a pillar of the Afghan broadcast and entertainment communities.EAI produces and broadcasts Baghch-e-Simsim in 33 provinces in coordination with 44 local FM radio stations including one national outlet radio NAWA in 18 provinces.  EAI leads high-impact community activities including community listening circles, Kindergarten listening circles, and Baghch-e-Simsim Community Viewing (BSSCV) sessions with review and approval from Sesame Workshop.

“I did not know that we should wash our hands after we play outside. I had no idea what germs were. Then one day I heard in BSSR that there are a lot of kinds of germs which are bad for our health."

Impact & Reach of this Project

600+

children participated in the kindergarten sessions each season

260+

regular radio listening circles organized each season

40+

local and national radio stations broadcasted the programs

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