University of Maryland School of Public Health research professor Dr. Dina Borzekowski received a $900,000 grant from the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), an independent non-profit, philanthropic organization based in the United Kingdom, to lead a series of studies on the impact of Galli Galli Sim Sim, the Indian version of Sesame Street, on children’s health and educational outcomes.
Despite economic and political advancements over the last several decades, many of India’s 400 million children (under age 15) still suffer due to serious deficiencies in the country’s educational and health systems, and are at risk of rights violations, from child labor to sexual exploitation, among other forms of violence and abuse.
Through Galli Galli Sim Sim, messages designed to improve children’s cognitive outcomes; nutrition and health knowledge and practices; and awareness and behaviors related to child safety will be delivered to children, ages 3 to 7 years, across India. Dr. Borzekowski and associate professor Dr. Donna E. Howard, both faculty members in the UMD department of behavioral and community health, will lead a five-year evaluation of this effort.
Drs. Borzekowski and Howard will organize an in-country team (managed by Policy Innovations) to collect data on Galli Galli Sim Sim, which will inform three different studies: A four-year longitudinal study of 900 children and their parents will examine the effects of viewing the program at home; a randomized controlled trial in schools with 2000 children will evaluate the effect of controlled and differential exposure levels to Galli Galli Sim Sim relative to other programming; and a qualitative study which involves interviewing children, parents, health professionals and educators about their exposure and perceptions of the show.
CIFF is funding this evaluation as part of a $12 million investment in Sesame Workshop India. Drs. Borzekowski and Howard’s evaluation studies will offer valuable feedback to the Galli Galli Sim Sim production team, as well as provide information on how to best reach vulnerable young children with educational and health messages.