Arab Bureau of Education for the Gulf States holds preparatory meeting to coordinate for Iftah Ya Simsim initiative

Arab Bureau of Education for the Gulf States holds preparatory meeting to coordinate for Iftah Ya Simsim initiative
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Published December 14th, 2010 - 12:37 GMT

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Representatives from the seven GCC Ministries of Education met at the Arab Bureau of Education for Gulf States in Riyadh on the 11th & 12th of December in preparation for the upcoming Iftah Ya Simsim educational seminar, scheduled for March 2011. The meeting outlined major educational themes for the project whose objective is to use media to achieve measurable educational gains in the early school years and help prepare children for school and life long learning.

The meeting was attended by representatives of the Sesame Workshop – the world-renowned educational non-profit organization, which operates and owns "Iftah Ya Simsim". Also present at the meeting were, Dr. Abdullah bin Said Abu Ras - General Manager of Gulf Radio and TV, Mr. Naser Al Qahtani - CEO of AGFUND and Mr. Feras Al Maddah - Sesame Workshop representative for the Gulf region.

Speaking at the meeting, HE Dr. Abdul Khaleq Al Karni, Director General of the Arab Bureau of Education for the Gulf States said, "the meeting will focus on plans to develop the curriculum of ""Iftah Ya Simsim" initiative, which aims at setting the best practical and educational framework for long term success in achieving educational gains for kids in their pre-school ages (kindergarten)".

He added that the meeting will also include a brief history of this initiative in the region, the overall Sesame model, key aspects of the projects and participation of the Ministries of Education of member countries, as well as educational institutions in the GCC region. In order to define best methods to meet specific requirements of each country, Ministry representatives and educators will be requested to present current scenarios on 'early childhood education' in their region.

HE Dr. Al Karni emphasized that the meeting is basically a forum to discuss essential educational needs of children in each country. At the meeting, Ministry representatives and educators will analyze results of the return of "Iftah Ya Simsim", and create an educational frame that reflects the needs and values of learning and be able to provide state-of-the-art educational resources capable of addressing children' needs today.

Iftah Ya Simsim program is the first educational initiative that aims at achieving measurable educational gains for children in the early stages of school. It also covers the rich and diverse culture of the Arab heritage, the essential values of Islam, preparation for school and improving basic skills for reading, writing and math, as well as creative and critical thinking skills and the importance of education for girls.

During the three-day educational seminar, scheduled for March 2011, project members will meet with teachers, educators, and researchers in the educational field and in pre-school educational services or health and social programs for children. They will also be joined by personalities from the cultural and creative fields such as musical productions and story-telling TV programs, in order to discuss how best this initiative could convey its cultural message.

The program is in line with objectives of the Arab Bureau of Education for the Gulf States, which aims to serve the educational, scientific and cultural objectives adopted by the bureau to develop work in various aspects and achieve full coordination, integration, cooperation among the member countries - UAE, Bahrain, Yemen, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Qatar.

The Director General of the Arab Bureau of Education for Gulf States also asserted that 'Iftah Ya Simsim' program is an educational initiative and not just a TV show. Hence it was only natural for the bureau to actively participate and take steps to ensure that the program content is consistent with educational policies of our countries, meets the modern requirements of the 21st century and promotes values, in addition to promoting values and morals that we want our children to adopt, especially, in a time where media has a major impact on children and the youth in general.

"This comes along with the improvement and development of educational systems in member countries. We are pleased to work with Sesame Workshop, the renowned media organization that presents some of the most unforgettable TV characters, with the purpose of creating content that would inspire our children to seek more knowledge about the world they live in," he added.

Robert Knežević, Regional Director of International Partnerships at Sesame workshop, expressed his enthusiasm for the Iftah Ya Simsim initiative: "we are proud to partner with the Arab Bureau of Education for Gulf States. Our mission is to provide children with age-specific state-of-the-art educational content that helps in developing capabilities of children in the GCC region and helping them reach their highest potential."

The Iftah Ya Simsim program, which was aired in the Gulf region more than three decades ago, was a co-production of Sesame Street and GCC countries represented by the Joint Production Program Institute. This series was the first Arabic-language co-production that was launched in the fall of 1979. 130 half-hour episodes were produced and aired daily in all Arab countries.

Also present at the meeting, Dr. Abdullah bin Said Abu Ras - General Manager of the Gulf Radio and TV, said that the Ministers of Culture and Media are interested in all programs, including the 'Iftah Ya Simsim' initiative, that have positive impacts on next generations, and instructed the

Joint Production Program Institute (GCCJPPI) to contact Sesame Workshop to support the development of the pilot episode. 

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