The Middle East and North Africa face their own baby boom. More than half of the region’s population is under the age of 24, and more than one-quarter of its young people are unemployed.
The Arab baby boom is both an opportunity and a challenge. USAID invests in young people so they have the skills, knowledge and attitude to succeed in today’s society.
Working closely with an Egyptian production firm and a regional satellite broadcaster, in 2011 USAID helped produce a full season of a compelling social drama—The University—for youth audiences. The drama follows the lives of a group of friends as they deal with the pressures of life and school in a globalized society.
The show’s main messages are designed to build tolerance, promote critical thinking, and encourage common values for success in a global society. During the popular Ramadan 2011 TV viewing season, The University recorded more than 2.5 million viewers in Egypt alone. Region-wide, more than 5 million viewers have watched at least one episode. As of 2013, the show’s themes continue to resonate with regional viewers, and preparations for a second season are currently underway.
The character profiles and story lines are based on intensive polling and focus group research with more than 3,500 young people across the region. The research looked at youth attitudes, concerns, habits and most common sources of information.
The program is produced by Alkarma Edutainment, a leading Egyptian production firm, using a team of writers from around the world and the region. BBC and Hollywood-based producers of One Tree Hill and South Africa’s Soul City contributed to the production.
More than 30,000 Facebook users follow the program’s social media posts. One Facebook user commented “I feel that I know the characters … they touch my life and address important issues.” Another viewer wrote that “the University is the best series of this season.”
Last updated: March 17, 2014