The Arab Bureau of Education for the Gulf States (ABEGS), a regional GCC organization dedicated to education, research, and development, and Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization, signed an MOU today to re-launch the much-loved Iftah Ya Simsim brand for a new generation of children. Iftah Ya Simsim was the first Sesame Street co-production in Arabic which aired 30 years ago in the Middle East.
The new educational initiative has an objective to achieve measurable educational gains for children in the early school years. To that end, the organizations will collaborate and convene a content seminar in December, enlisting regional experts and institutions to research and design a program curriculum that reflects children’s learning needs and values. Broad topics include the richness and diversity in Arabic culture and heritage, school readiness, healthy lifestyles and the importance of educating girls. Iftah Ya Simsim content may be featured on television, books and outreach materials.
“ABEGS is committed to building and unifying education systems to meet the challenges of the 21st century,” said H.E. Dr. Ali A. Alkarni, ABEGS General Manger. “With that comes promoting educational reform and modern techniques consistent with the traditional values of the region. We are pleased to work with Sesame Workshop, a renowned media organization with some of the most memorable characters in television history, to develop content that will inspire our children to learn about the world they live in and will inherit.”
“With mass media, it’s not a question of if children learn, but what they learn,” said Robert Knezevic, Sesame Workshop’s Regional Director of International Partnerships. “Mediums like television remain a vital and growing source of information and knowledge sharing in the region. We are proud to partner with ABEGS on creating relevant and age-appropriate content that will have a significant positive impact on children in the region and help them reach their highest potential.”
“The private sector has a major role to play in this initiative since it is a high-quality and sophisticated CSR program to be adopted by corporations in the GCC,” said Feras Al-Maddah, Iftah YA Simsim representative in the GCC. He pointed out that the new production of Iftah Ya Simsim will kick off with content development seminar to set the educational goals.
Al-Maddah added that many education channels such as TV program, books, DVDs, online material and outreach programs for kids, parents and teachers will be produced, “It is a public/private sector partnership and we will need the support of all to extend the communication channels and continue producing more educational products.”
Iftah Ya Simsim was the GGC co-production of Sesame Street. The series debuted in the fall of 1979, and was the first Sesame co-production in Arabic. There were 130 half-hour episodes produced and broadcast on a weekday basis in various Arabic countries.
The Arab Bureau of Education for the Gulf States (ABEGS), located in Riyadh, is an intergovernmental regional organization that works within the six member states, (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Yemen, Kuwait, Sultanate of Oman and Qatar). It was founded by the ministers of education in 23/10/1975 to promote cooperation and coordination in the fields of culture, education, science, information and documentation. This has been the mission of the Bureau since its establishment in 1975. The main objectives of ABEGS are to contribute to the unification of the countries and people of the region by providing collaboration among them and developing collective efforts and methods of cooperation in its areas of interest.
Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational organization that revolutionized children’s television programming with the landmark Sesame Street. The Workshop produces local Sesame Street programs, seen in over 140 countries, and other acclaimed shows including The Electric Company, to help bridge the literacy gap. Beyond television, the Workshop produces content for multiple media platforms on a wide range of issues including literacy, health and military deployment. Initiatives meet specific needs to help young children and families develop critical skills, acquire healthy habits and build emotional strength to prepare them for lifelong learning. Learn more at www.sesameworkshop.org .