Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop Educates Pakistani Children

Posted by Rick Snelsire
May 26, 2010
Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop Educational Performance for Pakistani Children

About the Author: Rick Snelsire serves as the Spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy Islamabad in Pakistan.

The United States has awarded $20 million to the Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop to support a four-year educational outreach program for children across Pakistan. In collaboration with the Ministries of Education and Information and Broadcasting, Rafi Peer will develop a multimedia program designed to build language, problem-solving, and analytical thinking skills.

"Through this initiative, Pakistani education and communication experts will have a vehicle to develop and provide educational content for Pakistani children," Lawrence Hardy, Acting Mission Director of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) said after the agreement was signed. “The messages will promote learning while reflecting Pakistani culture and values, based on the country's education curriculum.”

The four-year program will feature puppet-based television broadcasts, complementary radio programming using the same characters, and a dynamic website where children can interact with their favorite puppets. The project will also reach remote, rural areas, including conflict-affected districts, through live shows staged from vehicles set up as theaters. Thirty "district ambassadors" will also be trained to show prerecorded puppet programs on laptop computers.

"A project of this magnitude is a great opportunity for the children of Pakistan,” said Faizaan Peerzada of Rafi Peer. “Over four years and hopefully beyond, our children can grow up with this program, engaged in a creative learning process informally at their own pace.”

The Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop has been involved in television and radio programming, puppetry, theater, and the arts with schools and communities across Pakistan for 35 years. They will receive production and design assistance from the Sesame Workshop (formerly the Children's Television Workshop), an educational media nonprofit organization reaching more than 100 million children in 140 countries worldwide including Egypt, Jordan, and Indonesia, with its innovative promotion of literacy, math, science, and social development skills.



Virginia, USA
June 1, 2010

Flavius in Virginia writes:

I understand the thinking behind this, but doesn't twenty million dollars seem like an awful lot for puppet shows?

How many millions does Saudi Arabia give to the madrassas in Pakistan? Will they show the puppet shows?

Why is it that I think that the Pakistani equivalent of Jim Henson is going to retire early to San Tropez?

Nadeem A.
United States
June 14, 2010

Nadeem A. in U.S.A. writes:


Maryland, USA
June 19, 2010

Margie in Maryland writes:

@Mr. Flavius, First of all, members of the Peer Group had many opportunities to leave Pakistan and persue lucrative careers and they stayed, through high taxes on the arts, bomb attacks, banned programs and much more. They happen to like Pakistan. Please do your research before talking. Also, for expert teaching programming for television and other media in a country that doesn't have a mandate for public education like we have here, 20 mil is a mere drop in the bucket. The picture in the article shows a small public performance and is obviously not showing tv programming yet to be produced. I understand your cynicism but this group is the real deal. Look up some of their other activities.

October 21, 2010

Sobia A. in Pakistan writes:

its great job.really impressive.i have attended ur workshop for the selection of contents.
hopefully the children of unprivileged rural areas of pakistan will enjoy the learning and the objective to some extent will be achieved learning through games and poems and "learning should be enjoyably"
Best of good luck to all of ur team Rafipeer theater workshop

October 22, 2010

Irtaza in Pakistan writes:

Well, we laud the intent of America behind this project. But honestly speaking, I am not optimistic about its output. I mean there are many serious questions to review. Keeping in view the prevailing situation (flood and terrorism)how many children will be able to get a chance to join the puppet show? And by the way how many children use internet in Pakistan? And do you have any check in place to keep the utilization of your funds transparent and proper?
The target universe is "Children" and the only way to justify the spending of these funds is to ensure their mass engagement. So, I'd suggest to the USAID to go ahead and review the techniques to be utilized by Rafeepir Theater to engage the children.


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