KABUL: US children's television favourite Sesame Street came to Afghanistan this week with the launch of a new series featuring familiar characters like Elmo and Big Bird.
"Baghch-e-Simsim" made its debut on a local TV channel Thursday and aims to improve education for children in the desperately poor, warring country.
Its initial run is for 26 half-hour episodes featuring Sesame Street's typical mix of Jim Henson's Muppets and short educational films.
It is not the first time that the Sesame Street format has been exported.
A version of the show came to neighbouring Pakistan earlier this year, funded by the US government's international aid agency USAID, while co-productions have also screened in Bangladesh, Egypt, Mexico and Russia.
The latest version is a joint production by Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organisation behind Sesame Street, and Afghan television station Tolo.
"Teachers here in Afghanistan will discover that Sesame Street can help children start school well prepared," said the US ambassador to Kabul, Ryan Crocker. "Perhaps most importantly, it shows children the world around them."
Afghanistan's deputy education minister Mohammad Siddiq Patman said he believed the programme would "depict traditions, culture and other aspects of Afghan rural and urban life" and would be "profoundly useful" for children.