By Chris Ochayi

The United States of America, USA, declared it is committed to partner with Nigeria with a view to improving basic education system in the country for the betterment of Nigerian child.

US Ambassador to Nigeria, Terence P. McCulley who stated this at the Sesame Square launch at the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, Arena, in Abuja, described basic education as a fundamental right for all children and a building block of a healthy society.

McCulley while commending the President Goodluck Jonathan led administration’s efforts towards deepening the growth and development of education in the country, said, “and on behalf of my Government, I would like to acknowledge and applaud the efforts of the Government of Nigeria through the Ministry of Education.

He said, “along with the Nigerian Government, I would like to acknowledge the Sesame Workshop, the Nigeria Television Authority, and the local producers and artisans with whom we are collaborating to bring this important project to fruition.

“Sesame Street provides a shared experience for children worldwide, and we are certain that this will be no different in Nigeria. The television series is committed to the principle that all children deserve a chance to learn, to prepare for school, to better understand the world and each other, to think, to dream, to discover, and to reach their highest potential.

According to him, “the United States Government is committed to its partnership with Nigeria to improve basic education as a fundamental right for all children and a building block of a healthy society. I am positive that Sesame Square will play an important role in achieving this goal.

“The partnership between the United States Government, through USAID, the Sesame Workshop, the Ministry of Education and the Nigerian Television Authority to develop Sesame Square is a ground-breaking approach to help ensure that all children have access to basic education by making educational programs available through the media. This is especially important for children who may not have access to traditional educational opportunities.

“Yesterday, the Honourable Minister and I launched another education initiative, the 2010 Nigeria Data Education Survey, which, along with Sesame Square, aims to close the gaps between education policies and the delivery of a quality education to all of Nigeria’s youth.

The Sesame Square series will help fill such gaps, celebrating the children’s potential, fostering a love of learning, and encouraging a love of country and respect for others.

“The producers gave the title “We Can” to the first season, to inspire children to perceive learning as fun and a necessary pathway to success, and to echo President Obama’s “Yes, We Can” — a call to America and to the world that anything is possible.

“The story of Sesame Square began in 2008, when Sesame Street International and USAID collaborated to develop a pilot series. Sesame Square seeks to inspire the love of learning in children through the development of listening, speaking and reading skills.

Additionally, the series will promote children’s health, hygiene, and nutrition awareness, particularly focusing on malaria and HIV/AIDS education. The U.S. Government is proud to be a part of this project.

“And on behalf of my Government, I would like to acknowledge and applaud the efforts of the Government of Nigeria through the Ministry of Education, and thanked the Rufa’i for her support.

Along with the Nigerian Government, I would like to acknowledge the Sesame Workshop, the Nigeria Television Authority, and the local producers and artisans with whom we are collaborating to bring this important project to fruition.

“It is indeed a great pleasure for me to be here today to help launch Sesame Square, a wonderful Nigerian adaptation of America’s beloved and revered television program, Sesame Street.

The excitement surrounding today’s launch has been building throughout the American Mission to Nigeria. Every now and then, there is a television program whose popularity and impact reaches every corner of the world. Sesame Street is one such program.

“ I was 13 when Sesame Street started broadcasting in the United States in 1970, a bit older than their target audience…but I watched it anyway! And so did many adults, because of the high quality of the production.

When I served in Togo, I remember watching countless showings of “Big Bird in China” with my son, Sean, who was four at the time.

“So you see, my children grew up watching Sesame Street, as do the children of many of my team at the U.S. Embassy. In fact, Boys and Girls, some of my staff members at the Embassy and USAID were about your age some 20 years ago, and they watched Sesame Street every morning just like you will be able to watch Sesame Square.

We are all looking forward to the broadcast of this landmark series because each of us has been personally affected by the important lessons, and laughs, provided by Sesame Street, and now, Sesame Square.

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