The Daily Monitor (Addis Ababa)

2 November 2008

Ethiopia: 'Tsehai Loves Learning' Awarded World's Best Educational Pre-School Media in '08

Addis Ababa — 'Tsehai Loves Learning', a popular educational children's media project in Amharic, won the top prize in the pre-school category at the Japan Prize 2008 International Contest for Educational Media.

Beyond the international recognition associated with this award, the prize includes an ornate trophy and $3,000 USD.

The Japan Prize was established in 1965 by the national Japanese broadcaster NHK. The annual festival honours the top educational programmes worldwide. 'Tsehai Loves Learning', the UNESCO-sponsored programme, topped 30 other programmes which were entered into the category from around the globe, according to UNESCO.

"UNESCO was the first organization to believe in our project and continues to be our most consistent partner. They are helping to build the capacity of this project through trainings and networking opportunities like this one,"the UN agency quoted project co-founder Bruktawit Tigabu as saying. "We made many connections with children's television producers and broadcasters throughout the world. We're hopeful that this prize and the connections made will lead to something which will really stabilise the 'Tsehai Loves Learning' project", said Shane Etzenhouser, another co-founder of the project.

"We were competing against educational television programmes, web sites, games and interactive toys from places like Germany, Sweden, Canada, the United States and Japan. Most of these programmes have budgets that are at least 10 to 20 times higher than ours, so we were just happy to be accepted to this contest. It's such a thrill to win," said Bruktawit.

The winning episode of 'Tsehai Loves Learning' centred on understanding love. "In this episode our main character Tsehai, a six-year old giraffe, learns all about love: how it feels, and what it means, all through the care of her pet butterfly," said Bruktawit. The episode also employs phonetic methods to help children learn the Amharic letter 'Seh'.

This is the second major international award won by 'Tsehai Loves Learning' in 2008. Whiz Kids Workshop, the creators of 'Tsehai Loves Learning', also won the Next Generation Prize at the Prix Jeunesse International 2008 Festival, in Munich, Germany, last May.

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