Educational children’s programmes needed
By Hagar Saeed
CAIRO, August 18, 2018 - Doaa Mabrouk, 35, remembers the good old days when she used to watch with much excitement, an old TV show for children called "Mama Nagwa", when she was around 10 years old.
Mama Nagwa, which was presented in the 1980s and 1990s, by TV star Nagwa Ibrahim, taught children values and morals through the witty behaviour of a puppet called "Bouqloz" which children found very appealing at the time.
Because of her passion for this childhood character, Mabrouk decided to look for the show on the net for her two sons.
While looking for Mama Nagwa, Mabrouk came across many other shows that were popular with her and many other children at that time like "Arousty" (My puppet) and "Children's Cinema".
Arousty was one of the famous TV shows for children presented in the 1990s by TV presenter Samia Sharabi – better known as Mama Samia. It presented puzzles to children through marionettes and encouraged the children to use their intellect and exercise their brains.
"These shows affected our personalities as we were growing up and made us who we are today. They enriched our spirit with many simple values and morals through a variety of meaningful stories," Mabrouk told The Egyptian Gazette.
She laments the fact that the same kind of shows are not presented nowadays for children. "Today, children only watch foreign children’s cartoons, which are broadcast with dubbed non-Egyptian dialects. And most of these cartoons fail to present role models that teach the children morals and values," Mabrouk said.
For more than a decade, Hollywood has come up with several mega productions of movies directed at children that have taken the world by storm. The Lion King, Jurassic Park and Harry Potter are the most well-known examples. Some satellite channels are dedicated to broadcasting these children’s cartoon series throughout the day, tempting children to stay glued to them.
"Are these the kind of movies we want our children to watch? Aren't we missing the local touch that could help the children see our point of view?" Mahmoud Ghalab, a professor of Sociology at Cairo University, wondered.
He said that Egypt does produce quality children’s animated movies, but not on a scale that can withstand foreign competition. Bakar is an example of a successful and popular, local cartoon series which tells the tale of a little Nubian boy who gets involved in all sorts of adventures.
"The Egyptian media has to give as much attention to local children’s cartoons as it does to Turkish soap operas, and talk shows," Ghalab said.
He noted that there was a channel called “Family and Child”, but it offered no attractive content, and so nobody watched it or was influenced by it.
Ali Hassan, a professor of mass communication at Cairo University, believes that losing the tradition of presenting children's programmes on television and radio is a crime against Egypt's children.
He told this newspaper that producers in this country tended to under-fund children’s films. "The result has been that children's needs have been neglected. Egyptian children, lacking national children's channels, have been driven to watch foreign ones, and this affects both their language skills and their feeling of belonging to their homeland and their culture," Hassan said.
Children, he added, also resort to internet games that spread violence and other undesirable behaviour.
" Unless we give children's films the same attention and funds we give to regular films, our children will drift to grown-up movies, and the scenes of violence they are likely to witness may harm their minds," he warned. “Children turn to actors, not parents or relatives, as role models,” he said.