New Delhi, Oct 26 : Leveraging on the recall value of the muppets in widely-watched childrens TV show "Galli Galli Sim Sim", a five-year initiative is aiming to reach out to 90,000 tweens and women in three states to inculcate in them the savings habit.
"'Sapna, Bachat, Udaan' is the Indian adaptation of the global programme 'Dream, Save, Do: Financial Empowerment for Families'. Financial empowerment is critical to help people plan better and assist in alleviating poverty in India," Sashwati Banerjee, Managing Director of Sesame Workshop India (SWI), told IANS in an interview.
("Galli Galli Sim Sim" is the Indian adaptation of the hugely popular "Sesame Street" TV show that airs in Britain.)
"It goes beyond just saving money, it means having goals and aspirations, planning and finding the right information to achieve those goals. The idea of financial empowerment originated with a goal to ensure that families have access to the knowledge and skills which will put them on the path to making sound decisions (both financial and non-financial) which can help lead to financial security," Banerjee said.
To this end, "Sapna, Bachat, Udaan" focuses on 20,000 children aged 3-8 from low- and moderate-income families in Delhi, and 70,000 similarly-aged children and their caregivers in Rajasthan and Jharkhand to help them acquire healthy financial skills and behaviour.
"The programme provides engaging content featuring the 'Galli Galli Sim Sim' muppets, language for discussion and effective strategies for spending, saving and sharing," Banerjee said of the programme, which is sponsored by the MetLife Foundation.
Isn't 3-8 years too young for a child to imbibe the culture of saving and, more so, persuade their parents to do so?
"Multiple studies have recognised that the early years (0-6 years) are a critical period during which children develop their cognitive, physical, social and emotional skills that they need for lifelong learning," Banerjee said.
"Thus, starting early with key life skills can help build a stronger learning foundation for children. Sesame Workshop's approach to financial empowerment is to establish fundamental skills and strategies for young children and the adults in their lives to help increase knowledge and change attitudes about setting goals and planning and promoting behaviour change that engages families, particularly heads of household/women, in mindful financial behaviours.
"Money is part of a child's everyday life beginning at an early age with observations of the money habits of adults, and continuing with observation of these habits throughout their entire lives. It is, therefore, important for children to develop a strong foundation that encourages wise decision-making (financial and non-financial) -- thus contributing to their future growth and achievement," Banerjee said.
In Delhi, the programme is based in low-income urban settlements of Shahdara. SWI has converted a vegetable cart into a mobile TV, which is taken to the streets of the selected area where mobile community viewing (MCV) sessions are organised for children to watch educational and entertaining videos on financial literacy.
"Related workshops are conducted comprising activities and games using 'Galli Galli Sim Sim' material where the messages of financial empowerment are reiterated to the children. The initiative aims to reach 20,000 children (via multiple touch points) in Delhi through MCVs (community sessions where families and children come together to watch the entertaining, educational videos on financial literacy) and workshops conducted over a period of three years in collaboration with the implementation partners," SWI Content Head Meenakshi Khanna told IANS.
In Rajasthan and Jharkhand, the programme is being implemented in villages through Self Help Groups (SHGs) which are local committees of women who come together to make small regular savings and contributions to conduct microfinance activities.
"At these SHG meetings, facilitators engage women and their children with 'Galli Galli Sim Sim' educational material about financial empowerment. In Jharkhand and Rajasthan, the initiative aims to reach approximately 70,000 women and children," Khanna said.
From the content perspective, the programme focuses on addressing three main themes:
- "We can do it" -- Having a positive attitude, confidence, and aspirations
- "How we can do it" -- Knowing behaviour related to self-regulation and executive function that can help achieve goals
- "What information do we need to know?" -- Having the knowledge and information needed to achieve financial empowerment and achieve one's goals.
And with the initiative now being on FM Rainbow 102.6 MHz, the message would definitely be spread further.
"We've already started receiving positive feedback from the children who are learning the habits of planning and saving in Jharkhand, Delhi and Rajasthan," Banerjee said.
"We would be happy to extend the programme to other locations as well. We seek support from other state governments and other interested partners to scale-up the project in order to reach out to more children and caregivers," she added.
(Vishnu Makhijani can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)