nigeria | sesame square

Aiming squarely at a brighter future for Nigeria's youngest learners.

Children’s Education Initiatives in Nigeria | Gaining basic education and girl power

Of the 25 million children under age 6 in Nigeria, the majority live in poverty — having a devastating impact on education.  Poor families may need children to stay home and work, causing low rates of literacy and school enrollment, especially for women and girls — which is why a show like Sesame Square inspires hope.

The Nigerian version of Sesame Street is teaching children across all segments of society critical lessons on ABCs and 123s, girls’ empowerment, and health and hygiene — all crucial in a country where early childhood education is scarce and diseases such as malaria and HIV/AIDS are all too common.

Developed in collaboration with advisers from Nigeria’s Ministries of Education and Health and the country’s educational community, Sesame Square aims at a broad range of children’s educational and developmental needs in one of Africa’s largest and most diverse countries. The program debuted in May 2011 on the Nigeria Television Authority with 26 half-hour episodes featuring Sesame’s engaging mix of live-action and animated segments. Season 3 began in September 2013.

At the heart of the show are the Muppets. Take Kami, a bubbly and curious 5-year-old who is HIV-positive. Through her openness about the disease, Kami addresses this sensitive subject in an age-appropriate way. She’s a role model for families impacted by the disease and a powerful agent for overcoming stigmas and misconceptions concerning HIV/AIDS.

Kami’s friend Zobi is a blue monster with an obsession for yams and a taxi he forever tinkers with, yet never seems to get running. Zobi’s adventurous personality draws children in with laughter and, in turn, engages them in learning. Accompanied by celebrity guests, Kami and Zobi introduce episodes with a “Word of the Day” segment highlighting Nigerian children living in cities and villages across the country.

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