The state television broadcaster ETV is showing a ground-breaking new educational programme for 3-6 year olds called Tsehai Loves Learning. Modelled on the cult American childrens show Sesame Street, the programme in Amharic uses an animated giraffe called Tsehai (meaning sun in Amharic) and other animal and human characters to teach kids basic literacy and numeracy skills as well as social and personal responsibility.

The show is the brainchild of husband and wife team Shane Etzenhouser, a computer engineer from the United States, and Bruktawit Tigabu, an Ethiopian teacher. So far their production group Whiz Kids Workshop has completed eight episodes, while a further 30 are in the pipeline. Funding has come from the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organisation (UNESCO) and private sources.

The first episode was screened on 17 September and ETV has agreed to broadcast the show twice weekly for six months on an experimental basis.

Due to lack of both electricity and television sets the government has estimated that the programme is only accessible to a maximum of 2.2 million children out of a total population of 77 million. However, feedback from children and adults alike has been enthusiastic and UNESCO and other UN agencies are now looking at other ways of making the programme available, such as by screening episodes on big screens in Addis Ababa, MISNA news agency reports.

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