L–R: Yoshikawa and Aber. Source: New York University
The Lego Foundation has awarded a grant of $100 million to an ongoing partnership between the Sesame Workshop, BRAC, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), and New York University’s Global TIES for Children to develop evidence-based, early education interventions for children displaced by conflict and persecution in the Middle East and Asia. RSF trustee Hiro Yoshikawa (New York University) and former RSF visiting scholar J. Lawrence Aber (New York University) are co-directors of Global TIES for Children, which is serving as independent research and evaluation partner for the program. Yoshikawa is also co-author of the RSF book Cradle to Kindergarten, andAber is co-editor of RSF’s Neighborhood Poverty volumes.
The Sesame Workshop partnership designs and implements educational programs for children who have lived in crisis zones. These initiatives include producing customized educational content, such as a pan-Arab version of Sesame Street, to help boost children’s language, reading, math, and social skills. Other programs provide increased training to caregivers and community health workers and establish local learning centers for young children. The recent grant from the Lego Foundation builds upon a $100 million grant made by the MacArthur Foundation in 2017. Over the next five years, the Sesame Workshop and its partners will implement expanded direct services, including expanded play-based learning curricula, and new Sesame Street video content for refugee and host communities. These programs will primarily serve children of Syrian and Rohingya families fleeing conflict and persecution.
“Part of the magic of human development is that very few experiences doom a child to ruin,” Yoshikawa told the New York Times in a recent article on the new partnership. “But we have to address the risks early. This is particularly critical in these first years.”