By Namita Sahadevan, New Delhi, June 4 ANI | 1 year ago

Sesame Workshop India, on Tuesday, conducted a program "Hello Tomorrow" at the India Habitat Centre, to share the impact of its outreach program initiative The Radiophone Project.

The organization that created the famous educational TV show Galli Galli Sim Sim (GGSS), the Indian adaptation of American TV series Sesame Street, discussed how the Radiophone Project combined easily accessible technology with storytelling to produce innovative and engaging content, to reach out to more than a million children in rural areas having no access to television.

Sashwati Banerjee, Managing Director, Sesame Workshop India, said that she and her team came up with the idea of using educational content of the TV show in an audio format to expand the organization's reach.

"The main aim is making education accessible and it is our constant struggle to ensure that children are not pulled out of schools. The idea is to reach out to more than 100,000 kids in rural areas," she said.

Talking about the importance of developing children's content in India, Banerjee said that there were no funds for dubbing the show in various languages, which was a major hindrance to the organization's aim to grow beyond the Hindi speaking region.

"If we get funds, we will produce more content," Banerjee said.

The organization has a tie-up with ten community radio stations in North and Central India.

The GGSS project has also leveraged the popularity and growing use of mobile phones in the community to increase access to Galli Galli Sim Sim radio show, which currently reaches out to 1.4 million people in rural areas.

Neetu Singh, RJ and producer at Waqt Ki Awaaz, a community radio station in Kanpur Dehat that broadcasts Galli Galli Sim Sim every Tuesday and Friday said "earlier, we did not have license to run a community radio station. We used to go to limited number of villages in Kanpur Dehat area for narrowcasting, but after our association with Galli Galli Sim Sim, we have started broadcasting in about 286 villages, reaching 5000 children.

"Children love the Gali Gali Sim Sim character Chamki so much that they have even started going to school on her behest," Singh said.

The show that premiered in 2006 has produced five seasons till date. Galli Galli Sim Sim not only provides educational content to the under-privileged children, but also teaches them to take care of personal hygiene and inculcate healthy habits.

Supriya Sahu, Joint Secretary, Information and Broadcast Ministry, who was also present at the program, said "there's a real dearth of good content in India. Mostly content comes from Japan, Korea and other places. Children are not able to relate to foreign content."

Sahu urged community radio stations to expand their reach and build technical capabilities, and encouraged people to develop innovative ideas for community radio programs.

The joint secretary also said that the ministry would allocate adequate funds to help the project reach out to more children and announced that the government will provide 50 percent grant to the organization.

Inderjeet Grewal, Deputy Director, I and B Ministry (TBC), said "rural and marginalized areas are not having any access to modern medium."

Grewal stressed on the advantages of radio as a medium- how it is easily accessible to poor and marginalized groups, saying that programs on community radio have greater impact.

"The ministry is taking a lot of steps. The future of community radio is bright," Grewal assured.

(Posted on 04-06-2014)

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