Ahlan Simsim (“Welcome Sesame” in Arabic) is a transformational early childhood development (ECD) initiative of Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) that integrates direct ECD services for children and caregivers with educational media, including the Arabic-language TV show produced by Sesame Workshop, also titled Ahlan Simsim. Since its launch in 2018, Ahlan Simsim has sought to deliberately respond to immediate urgent needs while also thinking towards long-term impact, and to do so at scale. As such, scaling – expanding, deepening and sustaining impact – is core to our approach. The Insights from the Ahlan Simsim Scaling Journey report draws out insights from the IRC’s analysis of Ahlan Simsim’s experience scaling direct service interventions for children and caregivers in partnership with local actors, such as ministries of education, health and social development.

The report highlights six interconnected themes: understanding the system, ownership, collaborative partnership, adaptive management, co-design for scale, and investment for scale. Analysis found that success in scaling ECD outcomes critically depends on careful consideration of each of these six themes. In cases where vital components within a theme were not addressed, progress towards scale either stalled or the intervention discontinued. Components of themes are interlinked and in combination, they form the foundation for sustaining scale through strengthening the systems that support children and families.

These insights offer a way to think differently about big projects, working towards scale and long-term impact. They can be applied as much to ECD as they can to climate or other critical challenges.