Big Bird and His Sesame Street Friends, Coming Soon To Afghanistan's (Non) Schools

An Al Jazeera video report from Kabul yesterday describes the latest foreign aid effort in the country: "An Afghan version of Sesame Street set up in Afghanistan, where half of the schools lack buildings."

The U.S. embassy in Kabul is funding production of the Afghan version of Big Bird's show, which launches Thursday. 

"The international community touts education as one of the big successes in Afghanistan, reports Al Jazeera's Jennifer Glasse. "But as with many aid programs here, there is a disconnect between what the donors offer and Afghans need."

A school without teachers is just a building, and a school with good teachers but no traditional classroom can still be a good school. But it's not clear that funding an over-sized yellow bird and his Muppet friends is the best use of aid money now.

Deputy education minister Mohammed Siddiq Patman seems to agree; he lamented to Al Jazeera that 50 percent of the country's students are forced to study al fresco. (Which, in his eyes, is a reason to send the country even more aid.)

But Al Jazeera also spoke to Afghans on the streets of Kabul who expressed disappointment with the billions of aid already spent on the country in the past decade.

"We had many expectations for women," says one Afghan woman, "that have not turned out as we wanted. Aid that came to Afghanistan hasn't been used in the best way.

"In the past 10 years," says another Afghan, "the aid has only gone to certain people. It's not gone to the right place."

Watch Al Jazeera's entire report here, and read more Reason on Afghanistan nation building troubles here.

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  • ||

    "In the past 10 years," says another Afghan, "the aid has only gone to certain people. It's not gone to the right place."

    this is my surprised face. billions spent on foreign cronyism. It would be more, but those people are so backwards they don't even know how to crony properly.

  • ChrisO||

    Oh, I wouldn't be so sure about that. The Afghans seem to be pretty efficient croniers. I think this gentleman's idea of "the right place" for the money to go is his pocket, rather than to those "certain people."

  • Raston Bot||

    I'm only halfway through Easterly's The White Man's Burden so I haven't reached the chapter on Sesame Street yet but it probably goes something like this...

    W T F

  • Rich||

    it's not clear that funding an over-sized yellow bird and his Muppet friends is the best use of aid money now

    Oh, really?

  • ||

  • Lib||

    Wait a minute. I thought we loved the Muppets.

  • GILMORE||

    The Al Jazeera piece is like an exercise in Classical Understatement

    "despite billions spent, Afghanistan surprisingly still Afghanistan; in related news, annoying hippies get pepper sprayed, and no one cares"

  • ||

  • cynical||

    Are you suggesting they're all gay and hate boobs?

  • Robert||

    Furries?

  • Nike Dunk Shoes||

    thanks

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