US to fund ``Sesame Street`` for Pakistan

The USD 20 million project aims to boost education in Pakistan.

Karachi: The United States is donating USD 20 million to Pakistan to create an Urdu version of the popular television show for children “Sesame Street”.

The project, which is being funded by the USAID, aims to boost education in Pakistan, where many children have no access to regular schooling.

"The programme is part of a series of ventures that is aimed at developing the educational infrastructure in the country," the BBC quoted Virginia Morgan, a spokesperson for USAID, as saying.

"Education is one of the vital sectors that need help in Pakistan," she added.

The show, which will be filmed in Lahore and aired later in the year, will be set in a Pakistani village rather than the streets of New York- with roadside teashop and residents sitting on their verandas, the report said.

Targeting five to nine year old kids, the series will run on Pakistan’s national television and regional language channels, it added.

Although Sesame Street is not entirely alien to Pakistani audiences, as the original version ran on local TV during the 1990s, it could only be understood across the limited, westernised section of the Pakistani society.

In an interview with a local edition of Newsweek, Imraan Peerzada‚ a writer for the new series‚ said the protagonist was a brave and daring girl.

"She will represent what little girls have to go through in this gender-biased society," he said, adding that her journey would inevitably touch on Pakistan`s ongoing fight with militancy, but would not directly refer to religion.

"We don`t want to label children‚" he said, adding, "The basic learning tools of literacy‚ numeracy‚ hygiene‚ and healthy eating have to be in place first."