Whiz Kids Workshop has captured the imagination of Ethiopia’s young people with its innovative TV and radio shows. The company’s Tinbit Daniel explains how they’re helping improve literacy rates and promoting health and confidence in girls.
By Gemma Newby |
It used to be that if you were a child in Ethiopia, state-run television did not have much to offer you. There were only one or two programs per week made for children and broadcast in Amharic, Ethiopia’s official language.
That was until Whiz Kids Workshop came on the scene. Former primary school teacher Bruktawit Tigabu created the television and radio production organization in 2006 to improve literacy skills for children with limited access to education.
Not only do Whiz Kids shows reach children in areas where they have little opportunity to access education, they cover topics many parents and communities aren’t comfortable discussing openly, subtly encouraging children to know and claim their rights.
The company developed Ethiopia’s first educational TV show for preschool children called “Tsehai Loves Learning,” which has drawn comparisons with “Sesame Street.” Broadcast in schools, refugee centers and clinics, the show is watched by approximately 5 million children on TV, while 25 million children tune in to hear the radio version of the show. Tsehai, the show’s giraffe puppet, has become a household name.
Now Whiz Kids Workshop is developing a new civics-focused animation program aimed at 10–15-year-olds – starring three female superheroes.
Tinbit Daniel, business development associate at Whiz Kid Workshop, spoke with Women and Girls Hub about how education as entertainment can help girls grow up healthy, confident and informed.
Women and Girls Hub: Tell me about the new female superheroes Ethiopian children are about to meet.
Tinbit Daniel: They are powerful girls called Tigist, which means patience, Fikir, which means love, and Fiteh, which means justice.
We also have male characters who are strong and very supportive of women and gender equality: They are very nurturing to the girls and see their potential. We’re trying to create role models for boys so they will grow up to be better people.
That’s because this world won’t be safe just by empowering girls themselves. They need an environment in which they can exercise their rights. When they say no, they need others to go with that and not abuse or violate those rights. Men and boys need to be engaged and need to be educated, so that they can see women differently, and really appreciate their qualities and respect them for who they are, and understand where they’re coming from when they say no.
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