This week, we’re excited to attend the 2016 Tech Awards, an event presented by Applied Materials that celebrates individuals and organizations using technology to solve the world’s most pressing problems. One special moment for us includes having the honor of presenting the Microsoft Education Award. This year, the Microsoft Education Award is being presented to a unique nonprofit, Equal Access International.
Equal Access International (EA) is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to creating positive social change for millions of underserved people across the developing world by providing critically needed information and education. With award-winning expertise in communications for social change, Equal Access combines innovative media programming with direct community engagement activities to inform, educate, and inspire individuals and communities, providing them with the skills and tools they need to improve their lives.
We’re thrilled to help further Equal Access International’s mission to create positive social change for millions of underserved people across the developing world by providing critically needed information and education through innovative media, appropriate technology and direct community engagement.
Most recently, EA has furthered this mission through a partnership with Sesame Workshop and its radio version of Sesame Street in Afghanistan titled Baghch-e Simsim. EA has helped locally produce the fifth season of the show, which premiered in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan in 2012. The process includes producing original radio content based on Sesame programming. To ensure cultural sensitivity, as well as generating programming that will resonate with local children, content is localized: for example, children can be asked to play games with items they may have in their villages, or programming may refer to local cultural trends.
Why is this important? Most children in rural Afghanistan have limited access to education, and in some areas, access to education stands nearly at zero. Girls in Afghanistan particularly face obstacles preventing access to education. Radio programming for children gives them an opportunity to access this missing education, while modeling healthy parenting and fostering educational relationships between children and caregiving. The show isn’t just designed for kids — episodes sometimes contain a segment that is directed at getting parents to interact and play with their children, often including “caretaker tips.” With 92% of radio ownership based in rural areas, radio is a comfortable and familiar medium that allows this education to seamlessly enter the home. Equal Access is also working on an in-classroom pilot for kindergartners to generate teacher resources, visual aids, and classroom listening guides. This is the first time the show will move formally beyond the radio into the classroom, providing a new level of early education to rural Afghanistan.
“Sesame Workshop is proud to work with Equal Access to create a radio series that not only seeks to educate and prepare children for a lifetime of learning, but does so in a way that utilizes the most impactful and effective form of media in Afghanistan,” says Sherrie Westin, EVP of Global Impact and Philanthropy, Sesame Workshop. “With less than two-thirds of Afghanistan’s children enrolled in primary school, Baghch-e Simsim provides content that is critical to children’s education countrywide.”
It is an honor to support Equal Access International in providing a curriculum that is relatable and accessible to underserved peoples, especially children. Equal Access has a commitment to promoting early childhood education, respect and understanding, and national identity alongside the necessary ways in which parents and caregivers engage in productive, educating ways. It is a pleasure to extend this Education Award to an organization bringing positive change worldwide.