Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee have teamed up to create an early childhood development program that will bring hope and opportunity to a generation of children. Delivered through television, mobile phones, and direct services in homes and preschools in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan, the program will give young children the language, reading, math, and socio-emotional skills they need to succeed in school and later in life.
More than 3.7 million Syrian children have been born since the start of the crisis. Our program will help parents provide the nurturing care and stimulation children need to mitigate the impact of toxic stress. Through the IRC’s extensive network, we will provide home visitation and caregiving support sessions with trained outreach and community health workers. Face-to-face support will be combined with daily text messages and reminders to caregivers with links to video and audio content. These messages will be designed to empower caregivers to play an active role in their child’s development, and will support their own coping with practical techniques for managing stress.
Our program will transform community sites, formal and informal schools, and other focal points of aid into nurturing care and learning centers. Sesame Workshop and the IRC will train frontline staff, providing materials, supervision, and coaching to enhance their capacity and improve their instructional quality. These centers will be equipped with storybooks, video clips, activity sheets, and training guides designed specifically for both formal and informal settings.
The foundation of our program is a locally-produced television show that will introduce children to characters and role models who understand their lives and experiences. The show, broadcast and made available on digital platforms, will focus on essential early childhood concepts such as language, literacy, numeracy, and socioemotional skills. It will introduce children to the Sesame Muppets—furry, loveable friends who will model behaviors supporting respect and inclusion, as well as provide engaging educational messages.
Sesame Workshop and the IRC are change agents that have consistently made history by stepping up to address seemingly intractable issues. We have the relationships, track record, and evidence to implement a new framework for refugee education on an unprecedented scale.
An investment in the future of these children is an investment in a more peaceful and stable world for us all.