Galli Galli goes to the 'gallies'

NEW DELHI: From the highest level of technology, the TV, to the oldest poor-man‘s ‘movie‘ entertainment, the bioscope: that‘s what mass education programme Galli Galli Sim Sim, will give to the slum children in its mass education programme.

At the moment, the programme will be shown to children through TV sets carried on designed pushcarts, but the prototype for the bioscope is being readied as well.

"We have modernised the bioscope and we shall deploy these vends when these are ready to slums as part of our programme for mass education for those millions of children who cannot access TV," Shaswati Banerjee, executive director Sesame Workshop India (SWI), which runs the programme, tells

The programme, Galli Galli Sim Sim, is a hit on Doordarshan and Pogo channels, with the TG of two to six-year-olds, and the funding for the initial educational outreach was provided by a corporate social responsibility grant from Turner Entertainment Networks Asia. In an effort to reach these millions, SWI, a subsidiary of Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization behind Galli Galli Sim Sim and other educational media for children, has kicked off a mobile viewings programme, in which during the first phase, starting 15 February, one branded pushcart with a TV set and a DVD player will reach the poorest of slums and show the programme.

Banerjee explained that the trial phase, in which a Maruti van was used to take the programme to the slums, proved too costly and could not give the intended impact. Hence, they designed a pushcart that can be taken to any corner of a slum.

"Initially, we reached 22,000 children over the 25-day period of the pilot project. Using the cart, we shall be able to show the programmes to much larger numbers and run the programme during the whole day," Banerjee said.

She added that the cart is fitted with cells that would do away with the necessity of power connection, which means it would be able to look at localities where there is no regular power supply. Over all, this changed mode of delivery will increase the number of screenings from just three a day to between eight and 10. The trial with five pushcarts will start in Sanjay Colony, Bawana and Madanpur Khadar slums of Delhi, and in five locations in Mumbai, including Dharavi, Gavandi, Borivili and two other places yet to be finalised, she added.

January to March will be the testing period, and from April the full programme will be launched. Sometime about then, the bioscope boxes, once extremely popular as entertainment source in villages and small towns, will be introduced as well.

Testing of the prototype replacing the TV set with the bioscope will start too.

The baseline survey will be conducted and impact measured during the pilot project. And finally the impact-based model for delivery will be worked out, Banerjee said.

The cost per child, the ratio that funding agencies use to measure, varies according to the models, of which there are two, she added.

In the outreach-based model, which is the pushcart with TV set model, in which the programmes are screened and also educational material left with the NGOs handling the Balwadis, costs Rs 25 per child.

The cost for the impact-based model, in which only educational materials are given, costs Rs 15 per child. These are the ones being tested before being scaled up and become replicable across the country.

Galli Galli Sim Sim is the Indian version of the world-renowned children‘s television series Sesame Street, and airs on Cartoon Network, Pogo and Doordarshan.

Commenting on the successful completion of the first phase of Galli Galli Sim Sim‘s outreach initiatives, Soumitra Saha vice president, regional entertainment advertising sales for Turner Entertainment Networks Asia, said: "Turner‘s partnership with Sesame Workshop goes beyond television.

"Given how many young children in India don‘t have access to basic educational and developmental needs, it is highly rewarding for Turner to partner with Sesame Workshop in their carefully created and well coordinated educational outreach programme to help fill this gap."

Based on the work in the pilot phase, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation has awarded Sesame Workshop a grant, which the organisation will use to support Sesame Workshop India to research, develop, and implement similar educational interventions in slum areas in India‘s six largest cities such that there are measurable improvements in children‘s learning outcomes.

"Sesame Workshop India‘s unique outreach programme reaches large numbers of children and instills them with the power of learning at a very early age, which is extremely important in a country like India where several million children drop out of school before they reach the fifth grade," said Barun Mohanty, Director of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation in India.

"Equally impressive is Sesame Workshop India‘s commitment to measuring its impact on learning levels to ensure sustainable, positive changes in early childhood education, Mohanti added.

"We are excited to help bring this program to India‘s urban slums, as Sesame Workshop India draws upon its global expertise and lessons learned from similar communities in Egypt, South Africa and elsewhere," Mohanti emphasised.

The initiative is estimated to reach over 1.5 million children and caregivers over the next five years.

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