Sesame Street gets an Indian address

Updated: Nov 13 2005, 05:30am hrs
Finally Sesame Street will find an Indian address. The globally recognised Sesame Workshop will team up with Turner International to produce Sesame India, aimed at serving the 157 million children from 3-8 years in India.

The development of the ground breaking series for Turners Cartoon Network and Pogo would mark Sesame Workshops entry into India, and will draw upon Sesame Workshops international experience and Turners local knowledge, expertise and understanding of Indian kids.

The series makes it debut in early 2006 and will feature new Indian Muppet characters, locally produced live action and animation segments, and classic Sesame Street moments with Elmo, Cookie Monster and the rest of the gang, says Niret Alva president of Miditech, the company producing content for Sesame Street in India with Turner International and Sesame Street.

Project director Dr Asha Singh, a reader with the Department of Child Development in Lady Irwin College, elaborates:The series will be distributed on multiple platforms across India. To understand and address the local needs of children and to ensure local relevance and resonance, Sesame India will incorporate an innovative curriculum created by Indian educators, child development experts, and producers.

Says Alva, Indias rich cultural diversity will also be reflected in the music, live action and animation segments. In the first season, Sesame India will be in Hindi, though some English words and simple phrases will be incorporated into the series. The innovative series will subsequently be available in other languages, may be Tamil. In addition to the TV series, a Sesame India radio programme and outreach materials, including posters and flashcards, will be distributed in both urban and rural areas.

The programme transcends socio-economic barriers encouraging education for all children and addressing local as well as universal values such as sharing and cooperation. We are going to use the playway method of learning and hope to use humour, music, and dance to make it fun, adds Singh.

Sesame Workshops mission is to create innovative engaging content that maximises the educational power of media to help children reach their highest potential, said Gary E. Knell, Sesame Workshops president and CEO.

As with all our adaptations, we are now working with local experts to identify Indian childrens issues and how to best address them on-and off-air, says Louise Sams, president, TBS International and executive vice president and general counsel, TBS, Inc. Funding for the development phase of Sesame India was provided through United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and ICICI Bank.

Sesame Workshop is a nonprofit educational organisation which tries to make a difference in childrens lives around the world. Founded in 1968, the workshop changed television forever with the legendary Sesame Street. Sesame Workshop has created award-winning programmes like Dragon Tales and Sagwa, The Chinese Siamese Cat and ground breaking multimedia productions in South Africa, Egypt and Russia. As a nonprofit, Sesame Workshop puts the proceeds it receives from sales of Sesame Street, Dragon Tales and Sagwa products right back into its educational projects for children around the world.