Sesame Workshop and IRC created its early childhood development intervention program with the goal of addressing the “toxic stress” experienced by children in the Syrian refugee response region – Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria. The educational components of the program, designed in consultation with local child development and curriculum experts, will build both breadth and depth of services:
• Breadth Through New Sesame Content: Delivered through television, mobile phones, digital platforms, and direct services in homes communities, culturally tailored Sesame programming will help provide an estimated 9.4 million young children the language, reading, math and socio-emotional skills they need to succeed in school and later in life. Embedded in the content, Sesame’s Muppets will model inclusion, respect, and gender equity, and provide engaging educational messages, always from a child's perspective. All content that is created will ultimately be publicly available at no cost.
• Depth Through Home Visits and Learning Centers: Direct services in homes and centers will reach 1.5 million of the most vulnerable children. Home visits and caregiving support sessions will connect trained local outreach and community health workers to 800,000 caregivers. Home visits will promote caregiver’s capacities to provide nurturing care for early learning, well-being and resilience. The content will engage families through culturally anchored storybooks and picture books, parent brochures, caregiver guides, toys, developmentally appropriate games, digital content and parenting resources via mobile devices.
• Sesame and IRC will transform community sites, formal and informal schools and other points of aid into Child Development Centers. Centers will be equipped with storybooks, video clips on pre-loaded projectors, activity sheets, and rich professional development for teachers to enable age-appropriate, play-based learning.
The $100 million, five-year grant was awarded to Sesame and IRC through 100&Change, MacArthur’s global competition for bold solutions to critical problems of our time. NYU Steinhardt and Global TIES bring a critical perspective to this partnership through deep expertise in developing and evaluating programs for children in low-income and conflict-affected countries and a dedication to positive social change.
“This is a perfect example of our commitment to evidence-based innovation at Steinhardt,” said Dominic Brewer, the Gale and Ira Drukier dean of NYU Steinhardt. “Our global partnerships, combined with leading-edge research into education and child development, led by Hiro and Global TIES Co-Director J. Lawrence Aber, will inform this project and help scale it to serve generations of refugee children with little education and severe trauma.”