“‘The idea is to prepare and inspire a child to go on the path of learning,’ said Faizaan Peerzada, a collaborator on the Pakistani version of the show. “This is a very serious business, the education of the children of Pakistan at a critical time.” Their main messages will be of acceptance and empowerment, to sway youngsters away from religious extremism and promote growth.”
Deploying adorable muppets is likely to be a welcome change of pace from previous American attempts to shape the educational content of Pakistan (and particularly Afghan refugees living in Pakistan). During the anti-Soviet resistance until 1994, the US spent $51 million creating children’s text books filled with “violent images and militant Islamic images.” Children were taught to count with “images of tanks, missiles, and landmines,” in the hopes of raising a generation geared to join one of the seven anti-Soviet resistance parties (Washington Post 3/23/2002). The American textbooks were so militant that the Taliban used them to educate another generation of Afghan refugees and returnees (although they took the time to scratch out the faces of all the human characters). After 9/11, the Bush administration spent millions more creating a new version of the same textbooks but without images of weapons and warfare. Nevertheless, the religious content of the books was retained. According to the Washington Post (3/23/2002) UNICEF attempted to buy up the old militarized version at a cost of $200,000.
[Oh yes, and today’s blog post was brought to you by the letter “P” as in Progressive Pretext for Poor Propaganda.]