Monday, November 9, 2009


Sesame Street is already 40 years old and is considered as a pioneer in edutainment for young children. The show is watched by children all over the world and up until now, it still has not lost its appeal. It is safe to say that it has managed to fill in the void for wholesome children's edutainment without sacrificing the elements of fun and knowledge. I wonder if the same thing could have happened to Cumi Dan Ciki, a local programme aired on national television in the 70s if it has not been discontinued. Unlike Sesame Street with its various puppets, Cumi Dan Ciki had only four. I remember sitting in front of the black and white television mesmerised by Cumi the butterfly, Ciki the monkey, Bad the hippo and Cik Tam the crow. And who can forget Abang Wazata and Kak Ain? Of course, the programme was childish but it was for children anyway. So a lot of things which do not make sense to adults actually are very valid for children. I don't remember any other local programmes utilising puppets as a means of educating children except Cumi Dan Ciki (there might have been others but I don't remember). There were various segments in the programme just like Sesame Street. Children will still be children and I believe that puppets, toys, dolls and action figures will always be part of our children's lives. Why not go back into their world and discover the wonder of discovering something new and amazing every single day? Unlike Sesame Street which is produced by a non-profit organization and broadcast on public television, many local children's edutainment programmes nowadays are produced by multimedia companies. These companies are definitely profit-oriented and they might or might not have enough solid background on children's learning development and child psychology. Despite their expertise in graphics, animation and multimedia production, we can't ignore the fact that research is also an integral part of such programmes. These companies know that the television is a powerful medium and its impact can be quite astounding sometimes. It's high time the experts on children's learning development and child psychology put their knowledge to use and work together with these companies to produce a local programme with a strong national identity which can have the same impact and endurance as Sesame Street. And to the local producers who have kept the balance between education and entertainment, keep up the good work!