Sesame Workshop in India And Nihar Shanti Amla Launch ‘Learn.Play.Grow’

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NEW DELHI: Sesame Workshop in India (SWI)is all set to launch its new initiative – ‘Learn.Play.Grow’ in collaboration withNihar Shanti Amla. The 12-month programme aims to ensure that children attending the Anganwadi Centres (AWCs)develop stronger school readiness skills by focusing specifically on emergent literacy skills.The intervention has been proposedacross3800 AWCs in Shahjahanpur, Farukkabadand Kannauj districts of Uttar Pradesh, reaching approximately 70,000 children and their caregivers.

The project aims to build the capacity of Anganwadi Workers (AWW) to prepare children for school by using Galli Galli Sim Sim’s (GGSS) early literacy materials in a play-based manner. The project will also educate parents and caregivers about fun and engaging ways to support the child’s literacy development.
Using the experience, learning and expertise of working in government-run AWCs across various states, SWI seeks to develop and improve skills among children like vocabulary, phonological awareness, letter knowledge, narrative skills, print motivation and print awareness through the ‘Learn.Play.Grow’ initiative.

Rizgin Samphel, Additional Executive Director, State Innovations in Family Planning Services Project Agency (SIFPSA) said, “We appreciate the work being done by Sesame Workshop in India. We’ve seen the content of the Learn.Play.Grow project and it is very interesting. The fact that it aims to reach out to around 70,000 children and their caregivers is fascinating and we would like to support Sesame Workshop in all its efforts to bring in high quality early literacy materials to the AWCs.”

Department of Women & Child Development, Government of Uttar Pradeshshared, “Children are the foundation for a better future. Investment in their education reaps benefits in the long run. We welcome Sesame Workshop’s initiative in UP and hope that maximum children and caregivers in Shahjahanpur, Farukkabad and Kannauj will benefit from it.”

According to Sashwati Banerjee, Managing Director, Sesame Workshop in India, “Research has proven that the brain forms as many as 700 neural connections per second before the age of 5. Access to high-quality education at this age effectively impacts the learning abilities of children later during their primary, middle and higher education. A vast body of research has demonstrated that children who participate in high-quality early childhood programmes are more successful throughout their school career, are more competent socially and emotionally, and show better verbal, intellectual and physical development during early childhood than children who are not enrolled in similar programmes[i]. Hence, the concept of early childhood education in India needs to move beyond ABCs and 123s and focus on holistic learning of children.”

Ms. Anuradha Aggarwal, Chief Marketing Officer, Marico Limited said,“Nihar Shanti Amla is an ally to progress, enabling women to become agents of change in their surroundings. The brand enables women to actively make a difference towards children’s education. We are glad to associate with Sesame Workshop India (SWI) for this cause. Their Learn.Play.Grow model has interesting content that focuses specifically on emergent literacy skills. It is great that the project caters to educate parents and care givers too about fun and engaging ways to support children’s literacy development. Nihar Shanti Amla is dedicated to bring about a progressive change in children’s education, for which 5 % net contribution from the sale of each pack of Nihar Shanti Amla goes towards this initiative. The project will reach around 70,000 children and their care givers”

Uttar Pradesh, one of the largest states in India, has almost 20% (31 million) of the total 164 million children aged 0 to 6 years living in India[ii]. Despite achieving 93% school enrolment in UP, only 7.9% children in Std. 1 can read Std. 1 level text or more and, less than 20% children in Std. 2 can read Std. 1 level text or more[iii].Additionally, ASER data shows that in UP over 65% children aged 3 and over 47% aged more than 4 do not attend any private or public pre-schools in the state. The districts for the intervention – Shahjahanpur (Bareilly division), Farrukabad and Kannauj (Kanpur division) have been chosen considering the learning deficits in these regions. Only 38% of children in Std. 3 to 5 from Bareilly division and 51.73% from Kanpur division are able to read Std. 1 level text or more[iv]. There is an urgent need to create awareness and activation with respect to primary education in the state and the need for a holistic curriculum which addresses the critical areas of child development.

The Learn.Play.Grow initiative is targeted at addressing these current challenges in the pre-primary education space in Uttar Pradesh by providing engaging Galli Galli Sim Sim materials (print, audio, visual and digital) for the children in the AWCs and building capacities of the AWWs to better engage with children.

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