Afghan children ready to walk down Sesame Street

Wed Nov 30, 2011 9:59am EST
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By Daniel Magnowski

KABUL (Reuters) - Children in Afghanistan soon will be able to start their education the same way as millions of preschoolers elsewhere in the world: by watching the TV series "Sesame Street."

Makers of the show worked with two Afghan television channels and the ministry of education to produce the Afghan series, which begins on Thursday and features footage of Afghan life and the Muppets from the original U.S. version.

The series aims to encourage a love of learning in Afghanistan's youth. Around 45 percent of the population is under 15 and many will struggle to get an education, said Masood Sanjar, channel manager at TOLO TV, which will broadcast the show in Afghanistan's Dari language.

"Less than two-thirds of children are enrolled in primary school," he told reporters and children who had been invited to meet characters Grover and Ernie at a briefing in Kabul.

"'Sesame Street' is undoubtedly the most influential children's television program in the world. It was the first show to effectively use television as education," he said.

The series, funded by the U.S. embassy in Kabul and known in Afghanistan as 'Baghch-e-Simsim', will also be broadcast in the Pashto language on another channel, LEMAR TV.

"'Sesame Street' is not just for children," said Ryan Crocker, the United States' ambassador to Afghanistan.

"Teachers will discover that the characters in 'Sesame Street' can help children start school well prepared ... Afghan children who watch 'Sesame Street' will be ready to start school knowing the alphabet and knowing their numbers."   Continued...

<p>Sesame Street" characters act with Afghan girls before the inauguration of a show at French Culture Center in Kabul November 30, 2011. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani</p>