bangladesh | sisimpur

Opening up preschool education — and possibilities — to Bangladeshi boys and girls.

Children’s Education Initiatives in Bangladesh | Education that defies the odds

Now in its eight season, our locally produced Sisimpur program reaches nearly 7 million children throughout Bangladesh.1

In a country where fewer than 25 percent of children attend preschool by age 5, the Sisimpur educational initiative delivers vital lessons on literacy, health, and cultural awareness through television, classrooms, and community outreach. Educational messages are delivered through the adventures of homegrown Muppets, like Tuktuki and Ikri. These two vivacious little girls give their fans hope in the face of difficult odds: Of the 67 million adults in Bangladesh who are illiterate, 42 million are women.2 Despite her low-income background, 5-year-old Tuktuki attends school, learning to read and write, and aspiring to the same education opportunities as her male friends on the show.

The first season of Sisimpur premiered on Bangladesh Television in 2005 and is currently broadcast on Bangladesh Television four days a week. Studies suggest that Bangladeshi children who tune in to the Sisimpur TV program are faster to pick up academic skills such as literacy and math, critical aspects of girls’ education. Literacy scores of 4-year-olds who watch are 67 percent higher than those who don’t. Some viewers are gaining as much as a year’s advance in learning.3

Mobile community viewings and other educational outreach extends the learning, reaching more than 200,000 Bangladeshi children since 2009.4

In 2012, in order to better manage growing program activities, Sesame Workshop established Sesame Workshop Bangladesh (SWB), a wholly owned non-profit branch office in Bangladesh. SWB’s mandate is to sustain and grow program activities so that Sisimpur can reach future generations of Bangladeshi children.

Most recently, SWB launched the Enhancing Essential Life Skills program, designed to promote reading, health, hygiene, and environmental messages through the Sisimpur TV show and classroom program in partnership with the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education.

Major support for Sisimpur is provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

12008 ACPR Study on Sisimpur & 2011 International Census Data: K4-7 Audience Estimation
2UK Parliament. House of Commons, International Development Committee. (2010, March 4). Third Report: DFID’s programme in Bangladesh, HC 95-II. Available from http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmintdev/95/9506.htm
3Overall literacy score of 4-yr.-olds with high exposure to the show is 54.8 vs. 32.9 for those with no exposure. Associates for Community and Population Research (ACPR). (2008). Sisimpur’s Reach and Educational Impact Evidence from a National Longitudinal Study. Dhaka, Bangladesh.
4Project records, 2009-2011.