JUNE 06, 2012
The United States government has finally pulled the plug on a preposterous, $20 million project to develop a Pakistani version of the iconic educational children’s program Sesame Street.
Should American taxpayers be relieved that the government finally killed the abominable three-year project or outraged that it existed in the first place? It’s not like money wasn’t wasted. In less than a year, the failed Pakistani Sesame Street project burned $6.7 million, according to a State Department spokesman quoted by the Arab-language news network.
So why did the feds nix the project? They received “credible allegations” of fraud and corruption at the Pakistan-based company (Rafi Peer Theater Workshop) Uncle Sam hired to produce a local version of the kids’ show. The feds immediately launched an investigation and fired off a letter terminating the agreement, according to the news report. Still, the Pakistani version of Sesame Street, known as “Sim Sim Hamara,” aired for nearly a year at U.S. taxpayer expense.
Pakistan Sesame Street was part of a broader, U.S. program to improve education and increase tolerance worldwide. Americans have doled out millions to create Sesame Street in nearly two dozen countries, including Islamic nations such as Indonesia, Egypt and Bangladesh. The cash is distributed by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), a famously bloated entity that claims to advance the nation’s foreign policy goals by providing economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world.
The Indonesian Sesame Street (Jalan Sesama) came about as part of a six-year, $157 million initiative, promoted by President George W. Bush, to improve education in the southeastern Asian country. Under that plan, $8.5 million went to a New York-based company that developed and produced an “Indonesia-specific version” of the children’s program. Jalan Sesama actually “helps to strengthen school readiness for millions of children,” according to USAID, and strengthens early childhood education and development.
The Arabic Sesame Street series (Alam Simsim) broadcast in Egypt cost $8.4 million. The U.S. hired an Egyptian company called Karma Production to create that country’s version of the original series, which first aired in 1969. Egypt’s special version is set in a “typical Egyptian street” and reflects the country’s rich culture and tradition, modeling mutual respect and understanding,” according to USAID.
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