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‘My Better World’ Helps to Educate Kids in Sub-Sahara Africa

Fully African-produced animation project garners upwards of 2 million viewers a week while addressing the challenges for African teens navigating school, family, and friendship. 

My Better World is an animated 55-episode life skills series which was selected for competition at the 2020 Annecy International Animation Film Festival. It is a fully African-produced project, made by Fundi Films in collaboration with MAAN Creative for Impact(Ed), formerly Discovery Learning Alliance. The series forms an important part of the education curriculum in sub-Sahara African schools, drawing upwards of 2 million viewers every week on Kenya’s Citizen TV. In response to Covid-19, the series is also being adapted for radio to reach an even wider audience.

The series follows the adventures of six African teens as they navigate the complex challenges of school, family, and friendship. Each episode includes a two-minute documentary showcasing inspiring role models from across Africa. The series was produced in four languages, English, Swahili, Somali, and Hausa, and is the subject of a World Bank study into the impact of the series on learners in Nigeria; it is one of the largest animated series created entirely in Africa.

More than 30 South African animators and artists worked on My Better World with over 30 character and voice artists in the show.

“We made use of 2D cut-out character animation in Toon Boom Harmony, as well as live-action background plates,” noted MAAN creative co-director, Michael Clark when discussing the challenge of finding a way to translate a written life skills curriculum into something compelling, within a tight budget. “This approach enabled a cost-effective solution that simultaneously gave a lot of depth to the show as well as grounding it in a believable world.” 

Aimed at teenagers, My Better World tackles challenging subject matter, including issues like child marriage. The series strove to be entertaining, educational, while being sensitive to different cultural norms and meeting the curriculum requirements.

“It’s been an incredible project to be part of,” concluded Clark. “MAAN Creative is currently midway through creating our first totally original story, Sam the Hedgehog, which is aimed at raising autism awareness, and we are hoping to find enough funding to finish the short film by the end of the year.”

Fundi Films started out making documentaries for the BBC and PBS; currently they are working for the World bank on a series focused on the impact of urbanization in East Africa. For over 17 years, the company has produced talk shows, current affairs series, news stories, docudramas, and TV commercials. Working for international broadcasters, global NGOs, and small NGOs, their goal has been to tell stories with the hope of making a difference in the world. Projects have ranged from an award-winning stop-motion animation film about The Rights of the Child, to powerful docudramas like Kufa au Kupoma/Life or Death, and to short web series about the impacts of climate change in rapidly developing cities

Source: Fundi Films