CAIRO: An ambitious new program that puts kids in charge of writing, directing and presenting a television series will be beamed into Egyptian homes next year.
However, rather than featuring animated super heroes and cartoon comedy skits, the program will tackle serious issues like children’s rights. The project aims to empower kids and raise awareness about the problems facing young people.
“This program is about children and it will be by the children, says Ibrahim Touri, the country manager for Plan International Egypt, a non-governmental organization that works to improve the plight of kids living in poverty.
The million-dollar project is a joint operation between Plan, the National Council of Children and Motherhood (NCCM), the Egyptian Television and Radio Union and the American University in Cairo, who will supply a crop of graduate students to help the kids out.
The show will be produced in conjunction with Al Karma, a Cairo-based company who also produce Sesame World.
“Kids don’t have a chance to talk about their rights and opinions. This program will give them that chance, says Amr Oura, CEO of Al Karma.
While the innovative program, which will air on Channel 1 or Channel 2 just after the Ramadan TV bonanza in October, puts kids in charge, it will also provide senior and graduate students enrolled in the American University in Cairo’s (AUC) Media and Applied Arts program with useful real-world experience.
“Each student from the AUC will work with 12 children to help them know the topics they will talk about to help them analyze that information, says Maha Gindee, a representative from AUC.
“The role of the students will be to coordinate the kids and control the quality standards.
The project is getting cash from cell phone giant Nokia and from Sida, the Swedish International Development Agency, who are donating about LE 3.6 million ($600,000) and LE 1.8 million ($300,000) respectively.
The kids will have 11 weeks to create a 20-minute episode which will be like “an entertaining TV magazine, says Noha El- Sayed, communications manager or Plan Egypt. The shows could include short skits, plays and music.
The program will run 48 episodes in Arabic, with each episode tackling a separate children’s right.
“We can’t help kids without involving them, adds El Sayed, who notes that the child selection will come from 12 different communities and will include disabled kids.
Moshira Khattab, secretary general for the National Council of Children and Motherhood says the project will be instrumental in forcing action on issues like street youth, which the Egyptian government has failed to appropriately address.
“We have the message, but it’s not being managed by the government or the other NGO’s, says Khattab.
“We still look at street kids and we think we can just give them money but we don’t look at their rights. This program will really express the opinions of the children.