As American politicians debate the possible de-funding of American public broadcasting, the U.S. government is spending big bucks to bolster entertainment in foreign countries.
USAID has dedicated $20 million to remake “Sesame Street” for Pakistani children. The four-year series will feature 78 episodes in Urdu and 56 in other local languages. The show, called “SimSim Humara,” will be set in a bustling village.
According to a report in The Guardian, the show aims to have “strong female characters and carry an implicit message of tolerance but will feature no pro-American propaganda or overt challenge to hardline religious sentiment.”
The Guardian reports that civilian foreign aid to Pakistan is at $1.5 billion a year, having been tripled by the Obama administration.
Larry Dolan, USAID’s Director of Education for Pakistan, told The Guardian, “Teaching kids early on makes them much more successful when they get to school. And this programme will have the capacity to encourage tolerance, which is so key to what we’re trying to do here.”
Dolan continued, “In terms of bang for the buck, reaching 95 million people is pretty important. This is much more than a TV programme, far more ambitious than a Sesame Street series.”