Making early education center stage in India’s poorest neighborhoods.
One out of five children in the world under the age of 6 lives in India — that’s more than 165 million.1 Despite the country’s rapidly growing middle class, only 40 percent of children attend preschool. Numbers such as these show the enormous potential for positive change.
Since 2006, Galli Galli Sim Sim, the locally produced version of Sesame Street, has been working to bring early childhood education to children throughout the country. More than 20 million children across India are regularly glued to TV screens to watch the show with its diverse cast, vibrant set, and music and stories that reflect the country’s many cultures and traditions. Now in its fifth season, the show includes a curriculum focusing on literacy, numbers, health, and nutrition education.
To further expand its reach, Galli Galli Sim Sim partners with nonprofit child-care centers, called balwadis, where 95 percent of the children are from low-income families. One of these children, Aman, lives in a temporary shelter in the slums outside Delhi, a vast landscape of makeshift structures with mud floors and community toilets.
But Aman is lucky. Five days a week he attends one of the 5,200 government-run day-care centers that integrate Galli Galli Sim Sim into every aspect of their curriculum. Here amid concrete walls covered with paintings and posters of the characters, Galli Galli Sim Sim helps Aman learn the Hindi alphabet as well as shapes and numbers. His favorite Muppet from the show, the lively and ever-curious Chamki, introduces him to thinking in a whole new way — about the world beyond his own, about taking turns with other children, and about how to stay healthy and strong.
As part of its efforts to reach and teach all Indian children, especially those without access to formal preschool education, Galli Galli Sim Sim makes house calls. Using a repurposed vegetable cart equipped with a television and DVD player, local teachers make the show a regular presence in urban slums, engaging children of all ages in narrow alleys with a special screening and educational games. Through the mobile viewing program and numerous educational outreach efforts, Galli Galli Sim Sim has reached 1 million children and caregivers to date2, including some of the world’s most disenfranchised children. And research shows that Galli Galli Sim Sim’s efforts are paying off, increasing important skills such as literacy and numeracy, especially among those children who need it most.
These are the promises of Galli Galli Sim Sim: that one early childhood education initiative can make a difference on a scale unique to mass media, and that in a nation as complex and diverse as India, we can make every child believe Chamki when she says, “Stay in school, study, work hard; there isn’t anything you can’t do.” Aman sure does.
Turner Entertainment Networks Asia, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, MetLife Foundation, Schwab Charitable Donor-Advised Fund, Qualcomm Wireless Reach, Ford Foundation, HSBC, Sir Ratan Tata Trust.
- Children with exposure to Galli Galli Sim Sim show significant gains in Hindi literacy, especially among those from less-privileged backgrounds.3
2 Galli Galli Sim Sim Outreach Team. (2010). Project Records.
3 GyanVriksh Technologies, (2009). The reach and impact of the Galli Galli Sim Sim television show in India: Midline report of a naturalistic longitudinal study. Hyderabad, India.
4 2009 intermedia study on Galli Galli Sim Sim and 2011 International Census data: K2–8 audience estimation.
Over 20 million children aged 2-8 tune in to Galli Galli Sim SIm on a regular basis