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Sesame Street
comes to Bangladesh

After travelling across the globe, under names like 1, Rue Sesame, Sesamstrasse, Takalani Sesame, Sesamstraat and more, Jim Henson's celebrated series comes to Bangladesh under the new banner of 123 Sisimpur. Airing on BTV on Fridays at 9:05 am and on Saturdays, Mondays, and Wednesdays at 2:05 p.m., the show brings a new dimension to the learning process.

Jim Henson, artist and puppeteer, created the Sesame Street Muppets for Children's Television Workshop in the mid-sixties. Jim Henson's Muppet creations were already well know to network TV viewers when television producer Joan Ganz Cooney asked Henson to create a family of Muppet characters for Sesame Street. Cooney began her evaluation of children's television under the auspices of the Carnegie Institute. Her disappointment in the lack of educational shows for children led to the formation of the Children's Television Workshop and the production of Sesame Street. From the start, the use of puppets had been envisioned for Sesame Street. It was felt that Muppets were the perfect means to entertain pre-schoolers while they learned. Hence, the birth of Ernie, Bert, Oscar the Grouch, Grover, Cookie Monster, and Big Bird.

After several years of research and testing, Sesame Street premiered in 1969. The series was designed to help pre-schoolers build the skills needed to provide a smooth transition from home to school. The show focused on learning the alphabet, numbers and social skills. The strategy was to combine education with entertainment. The show was, and probably still is, one of the most thoroughly researched television programs ever produced. In fact, Sesame Street has been recognised with more than 50 Emmy Awards.

And now, with characters that the local children can identify with, the Sesame bandwagon comes to BTV in a collaboration with Nayantara Communications, and is sponsored by USAID.

The Muppets Halum the tiger, Shipu the jackal (who looks more like a squirrel, if you ask me), Ikra the…well, I don't know what he's supposed to be, and Tuktuki, this cool purple-skinned girl, as well as characters like the Daak Peon (mailman), Nanu, the wise Moyra (sweetmaker) and Sumona, the show host, all of whom live in this mufassil town called Sisimpur. They have a lot of fun together, singing, dancing, playing, and, most importantly, learning new things. Each episode features a new lesson, like discovering the alphabet, learning how to draw, or mastering a new song. This is a fun, interactive way of learning, something that has been sadly lacking in the local media.

This Monday, a special Sesame Workshop was organised at the Spectra Convention Centre. The State Minister for Education, Ehsanul Huq Milon; the Director General of Bangladesh Television, Ferdous Ara Begum, and the US Ambassador, Harry K Thomas, all spoke on the occasion.

The speakers talked about the general state of education in the country, the role of media, and the contribution of the Sesame Workshop, and thanked USAID for their generous sponsorship. The speeches were followed by a special screening of 123 Sisimpur. A host of young underprivileged children were then brought in, where they interacted with the Muppets Halum, Ikri, Tuktuki and Shipu, who had the audience laughing away. Eminent artist Mustofa Monwar spoke about the potential of puppetry in the learning process.

So if you want to enjoy Sesame Street in a bit of local flavour, tune into BTV and let the fun and learning begin.

By Sabrina F Ahmad

Campus news

Residential semester BRAC University

Since its inception in the year 2001, BRAC University has been making headlines as one of the leading private universities in Bangladesh. And with the introduction of the residential semester on July 2003, BRAC University has given a new dimension to the methods of teaching at private universities in Bangladesh.

The residential semester aims at enhancing the communication skills of the students, especially in English. It also emphasizes, through various exercises and activities, the development of leadership qualities as well as the ability to live together and function as a group. In other words, it gives the students the taste of things to come when they start their prospective careers.

The residential semester is held at the Training and Resource Center (TARC), situated in Savar. The campus in Savar is well secured and the environment is indeed very refreshing. Students get the chance to experience the beauty of nature as there are no busy roads, no noise or air pollution or no big buildings. Lush green outfield surrounded by trees encompasses the campus and the cool atmosphere gives the finishing touch to the refreshing outlook.

The whole residential program is governed by the Campus Super ensuring all rules and regulations of the program are maintained. The campus is heavily secured and guarded by trained professionals barring all outsiders from entering the campus. Parents are welcomed to visit their children but it is asked that the frequency of their visits be kept low so as to not disturb the whole program.

There are four dormitories in the campus, where two dorms are allocated to the boys and the other two are allocated to the girls. Both privacy and security is maintained by the authorities to ensure that boys do not enter the girl's dormitory and vice versa. Each dormitory has a house tutor maintaining the discipline and rules and regulations of the campus.

During the whole semester a special event takes place known as the 'House Cup Competition'. In this event all the four dormitories compete with each in various fields of events which includes debates, newsletters, academic performance, sporting activities, cultural function and discipline. Sporting activities includes football, table tennis, badminton, chess, carom and basketball whereas discipline includes how well the students adapt and maintain the rules and regulation set forth by the authorities.

Regular classes are held at the residential semester, taken by teachers who come to the Savar Campus, everyday, from the Mohakhali campus. This ensures that the quality of education in the Savar campus is no less different than the one in the Mohakhali campus.

A special course in English has been designed to improve the verbal and written skills of the students. The course focuses on areas such as writing reports, making presentations, public speaking, etc.

One of the most interesting activities in the whole residential semester is the Microlab Exercise. This program is a unique way of teaching students the hardships of employment at TARC. In this program, all the employees of TARC are given a day off and their respective jobs are taken up by the students.

Each category of job is assigned to each student via lottery. There are a variety of jobs which includes sweepers, bathroom cleaners, laundry men, cook, room service, operator, guards, accountant and the post of the Campus Super.

In summary, the students have complete control of the whole campus. At the end of the day students and teachers attend a meeting where students reflect on their experience. It is an experience that will remain in student's head forever.

In the end, the residential semester is definitely a unique course which has not been brought about by any private university. This course gives you an insight how the real world is and teaches you how to deal with the hardships of life. This course teaches you about discipline and responsibilities, such as cleaning your room or washing your clothes, it gives you the feeling of life when you go abroad alone, be it for work or for higher studies.

This course teaches you about adjusting and adapting to an alien environment even if it is not to your likings, it teaches you ways to socialize with unfamiliar people. Overall, it is a perfect grooming session, equipping with all necessary arsenals before entering the real world.

By Ziad Bin Hyder


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