September 2021

Learning through play on Takalani Sesame

See how one of the world’s favourite TV shows encourages children in South Africa to love learning

Kerry Kassen

Countries all around the world have their own take on Sesame Street, a show that’s been delighting children since it first appeared in the US in the late 1960s. In South Africa, Takalani Sesame has educated and entertained South African children for over two decades. It features beloved Muppet friends exploring their world through play – and helping their young audience do the same. We’re big fans of their work, which is why we partner with the non-profit behind the show, Sesame Workshop, to fund production, produce resources and launch local outreach programmes.

How Takalani Sesame helps children learn through play

Sesame Workshop’s mission is to ‘help kids grow smarter, stronger and kinder’. As the Takalani Sesame Muppets go about their business, here are just some of the ways they do that.


Modelling children’s creativity and flexibility

Children watch the Muppets trying out different ways of doing things, embracing their efforts when things don’t go to plan, trying again, dealing with frustration and supporting and encouraging their friends.


Enjoying playful problem-solving

In 2019 Takalani Sesame added a new segment, Playtime with Basma and Jad, to the show. These caring best pals work through challenges, never giving up and singing their catchy song as they “try, try, try again!”.

They also teach the concept of ‘ubuntu’ – a word from the Nguni languages of Zulu and Xhosa describing essential humanity, like compassion and empathy. That’s also important to Sesame Workshop’s focus on inclusion.

How we support Takalani Sesame, children, and parents in South Africa

We’ve worked with Takalani Sesame since 2015, but in 2019 we launched a five-year plan with them to help more children in South Africa learn through play through the show, digital content, and community outreach projects.

Making new episodes of Takalani Sesame
Measuring the show’s impact on children
Creating resources for families and children
Running the Play to Learn community outreach programme

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