In 2018, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Sesame Workshop came together to support children’s healthy development by pairing mass media resources with service provision through the Ahlan Simsim initiative. Ahlan Simsim aims to ensure that children ages 0 to 8 affected by conflict and crisis in the MENA region are supported by cost effective, adaptable, and contextualized early childhood development (ECD) solutions that are scaled and sustained for long-term impact.

The portfolio of Ahlan Simsim scaling pathways aims to expand and deepen ECD impact and strengthen existing systems to create sustained change in children’s lives, through Contextually-relevant ECD solutions co-developed and implemented with national partners that focus on meeting national needs of young children and on strengthening the systems that support them. Across Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria, Ahlan Simsim teams collaborate with a variety of partners, including government ministries, local authorities, and organizations, to advocate for and institutionalize ECD as a shared priority. Across contexts, partners have expressed their interest in collaborating in the areas of childcare standards, health worker capacity building, and early learning.

Influenced by Brookings Institution’s Center for Universal Education Real Time Scaling Lab, the teams working on scaling in Lebanon, Jordan, Northwest and Northeast Syria and Iraq have adopted tools to track and analyze components of scaling which aided in assessing and documenting the processes. Tools and discussions revolved around the main drivers* that contribute to scaling which are: governance and coordination, flexible adaptation, local needs, policy* implementation and long-term financing. Since the onset of the project, in 2018, these components have allowed Ahlan Simsim teams to reflect on the work that is being done by considering milestones, challenges, patterns, and processes to come up with country-specific lessons learned and best practices.

Building on this work, staff from Ahlan Simsim teams across the region came together in March 2023 to exchange and discuss scaling learnings and examine patterns across countries. By reflecting on and analyzing Ahlan Simsim’s scaling journey, we seek to inform future scaling work in ECD and possibly other sectors. Based on preliminary analysis of information gathered, the experience of Ahlan Simsim staff and the discussions during the regional workshop, the scaling team at the IRC put together the list of cross-country takeaways from the perspective of the originating organization. You can review the detailed document by clicking on the following link: Ahlan Simsim Scaling Journey Takeaways – the perspective of the originating organization.


* Scaling drivers: factors that enable the scaling process, the IRC have identified these drivers based on secondary information and analysis of existing scaling literature.

* Policy: a proposed course of action or guidelines to follow to reach goals and objectives set by governments, official bodies or institutions. They are continuously subject to the effects of contextual changes and influences.



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