A groundbreaking project, Ahlan Simsim by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Sesame Workshop, has been recognized by the 2023 WISE Awards.

Ahlan Simsim has reached over 1.7 million children and their families directly with playful and educational learning opportunities in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, and over 25 million children through the award-winning locally produced Arabic-language version of Sesame Street airing across the Middle East and North Africa.

Since its inception in 2009, the WISE Awards have recognized and promoted 90 innovative projects, from over 150 countries, that are addressing global educational challenges. The 2023 finalists represent a diverse range of sectors and locations, showcasing a growing resource of expertise and sound educational practice.

The IRC and other winners of the WISE Awards will be celebrated in Doha in an exclusive ceremony held during the upcoming WISE summit, taking place from November 28-29. In addition to visibility and networking opportunities as part of the WISE Community, each winner will receive USD $20,000. For more information about the WISE Awards and this year’s winners, please visit wise-qatar.org. 

Stavros N. Yiannouka, CEO of WISE, commented: "Both NaTakallam and Ahlan Simsim exemplify the transformative power of education, bridging gaps and fostering inclusivity. NaTakallam's unique approach to language learning and Ahlan Simsim's early childhood development program enhance the continuation of Arabic language learning through innovation. We are thrilled to recognize these innovative projects and celebrate their success at the upcoming WISE Summit in Doha."

Su’ad Jarbawi, IRC’s Regional Vice President for the MENA region, expressed: “We are deeply grateful and honored to receive the prestigious WISE Award for our Ahlan Simsim initiative. This recognition reflects IRC’s and Sesame Workshop’s unwavering commitment to making a positive impact on the lives of children and caregivers across Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. Ahlan Simsim had the audacity to center our attention on children. Exploring their world with them and building on it in a way that makes them thrive, both now and in the future. Our success has rested on the humble recognition that we can’t do it alone – together with government entities, local and national organizations we have been able to create world class content and programs that manage the adverse impact of crisis and conflict on children and allows them the space to grow.” The five other winning projects are: Tekwill in Every School by ATIC (Republic of Moldova), International Common Assessment for Numeracy (ICAN) by PAL Network (Kenya), Nature-Based Education Networks by OpEPA (Colombia), and Catalyzing ECE at Scale by Rocket Learning (India). These tackle various education challenges facing early childhood development, marginalized populations and more.

About WISE

WISE was established by Qatar Foundation in 2009 under the leadership of its Chairperson, Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser. WISE is an international, multi-sectoral platform for creative, evidence-based thinking, debate, and purposeful action in education. Through the biennial summit, collaborative research and a range of ongoing programs, WISE is a global reference in new approaches to education. To stay up to date, follow WISE on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

About Qatar Foundation

Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF) is a non-profit organization that supports Qatar on its journey to becoming a diversified and sustainable economy. QF strives to serve the people of Qatar and beyond by providing specialized programs across its innovation-focused ecosystem of education, research and development, and community development.

QF was founded in 1995 by His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Father Amir, and Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, who shared the vision to provide Qatar with quality education. Today, QF’s world-class education system offers lifelong learning opportunities to community members as young as six months through to doctoral level, enabling graduates to thrive in a global environment and contribute to the nation’s development.

QF is also creating a multidisciplinary innovation hub in Qatar, where homegrown researchers are working to address local and global challenges. By promoting a culture of lifelong learning and fostering social engagement through programs that embody Qatari culture, QF is committed to empowering the local community and contributing to a better world for all.

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC works in more than 40 countries and in 28 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on InstagramTwitterTikTok and Facebook.