palestine | shara'a simsim

A powerful — and playful — paradigm shift for the children of Palestine.

Children’s Education Initiatives in Palestine | A new paradigm for Palestine

Shara’a Simsim, the Palestinian adaptation of Sesame Street, has become a vital part of the children’s media landscape in Gaza and the West Bank since its premiere in September 2007

The show is an essential source of literacy and other learning fundamentals for girls and boys in an area where roughly 66 percent of children don’t have access to preschool education.1 What’s more, Shara’a Simsim works to empower Palestinian boys by engendering self-esteem and providing positive role models, a much-needed alternative to the divisive characters and imagery found on many local programs.

Through its focus on Palestinian identity and respect for others, the series helps young children value the achievements of their unique culture and gain an appreciation of the diverse world in which they live. A total of 119 episodes have been co-produced by the Palestinian Education Media Network and Sesame Workshop. The show reaches 4- to 7-year-olds daily on the Ma’an Network, supported by an integrated outreach program that includes Shara’a Simsim storybooks, videos, PSAs, and live events.

And research shows, the efforts are paying off. Children who watch Shara’a Simsim do better on a broad range of educational outcomes than to those who don’t watch, especially on social-emotional themes like ‘Cooperation’ (almost 18% higher), ‘Sharing’ (15% higher), and ‘Helping others’ (almost 11% higher).2

Major support for Shara’a Simsim was provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Government of the Netherlands, the Righteous Persons Foundation, and the Paltel Foundation.

1 UNESCO Institute for Statistics. (2009). Education (all levels) profile—Occupied Palestinian territory: Pre-primary enrollment. Retrieved October 6, 2011 from
2 Fluent Public Opinion + Market Research. (2011). Shara’a Simsim impact assessment: Report of research findings. New York, NY: Fluent.