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.