Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Natalie E. Brown at N*Gen Earth Day Event
April 21, 2022 | Uganda Wildlife Education Center, Entebbe, Uganda (as prepared for delivery)
Good afternoon to all and thank you for being with us today to celebrate Earth Day. Earth Day 2022’s theme is “Invest in our planet,” and we have come together today to celebrate our mutual investments in our earth by protecting Uganda’s biodiversity. We are also here to share those investments with Uganda’s youth already engaged in conservation through the Wildlife Clubs of Uganda and to encourage more students, parents, teachers, and schools in Uganda – and throughout the world – to invest in our planet.
More than two years ago, when COVID brought the ordinary day-to-day existence of many in the world to a screeching halt, the U.S. NGO Peripheral Vision International, or PVI, and the educators and students from Uganda’s Clarke Junior School, responded to the closing of Ugandan schools with creativity, innovation, and collaboration. Together, they brought to life the first Pan-African, STEM-based, children’s television show: N*Gen.
N*Gen sounds like the word “engine,” but stands for “Next Generation,” and gives us an exciting way for kids of all ages to learn about things like the brain, the water cycle, and wetlands…all from home. The show is designed to foster a culture of curiosity, discovery, and critical thinking while promoting girls’ empowerment and providing young people with accurate information about health, science, and environmental issues that affect their daily lives.
This free-to-air television show’s first season was so successful that it is now airing on 44 networks in 14 African countries. NTV aired individual episodes from N*Gen’s first season more than 156 times in 2021 and estimated the episodes were viewed more than 100 million times in Uganda alone.
Furthering N*Gen’s reach, the show is now available in the United States through Common Sense Media’s new streaming platform, Sensical, and on the Discovery Channel’s Discovery Education platform, which reaches 50 million school children and five million teachers across 90 countries. In fact, I learned about N*Gen not from viewing it in Uganda but from a story titled, “Africa’s Hit Science Show for Kids is Coming to the U.S.,” written by the U.S. media outlet known as NPR or National Public Radio.
A significant amount of the almost one billion dollars the United States invests in Uganda aligns with N*Gen’s core themes and mission: from extensive programs in the health sector and support for Uganda’s biodiversity to a shared belief that the greatest investment we can make is in building Uganda’s human capital, especially through investments in Ugandan youth.
That overlap has provided us with an incredible opportunity and platform to highlight the decades-long collaborations in various technical spaces between the people of Uganda, Uganda’s public institutions like the Uganda Wildlife Authority, the Uganda Wildlife Education Center, the Uganda Virus Research Institute, and many U.S. government agencies and programs such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Forest Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and others.
Much of the work we have done together is very technical in nature, making it challenging to communicate our work and its impact in a way that can be easily understood by the general public, let alone by children. Our collaboration with N*Gen has now made it possible to share this incredible collective work with audiences of all ages; to help provide ongoing learning opportunities for children around the world, both inside and outside the classroom; and, in the case of the episode we are about to watch, to help viewers understand the complex dynamics of sharing space with wildlife, the efforts to stop poaching, and to find ways to mitigate human-wildlife conflict and live harmoniously with our earth and all of its natural treasures.
Our USAID Environment team shared this work with me one year ago this week, in the lead-up to Earth Day 2021, and little did I know the itinerary they prepared for my visits would become the draft production plan for the episodes we are about to watch. Because I have been on the ground where you filmed this program, because I’ve met with communities dealing with human-wildlife conflict, and because I’ve see animals injured by poachers, I am particularly excited to share these episodes with you. I am also proud to see the future integration of the N*Gen programming and accompanying educational materials into the learning materials used by the National Wildlife Clubs of Uganda. We have a group of students and teachers here from Entebbe today to represent the National Wildlife Clubs of Uganda. Give us a wave Wildlife Club of Uganda members!
Finally, I want to give my sincere gratitude to all of you who made this show possible. First to the PVI team and the students and faculty from Clarke Junior School, whose energy and creativity helped bring this show to life and make it incredibly successful. I’d also like to express our sincere thanks to all of the Ugandan wildlife and conservation experts here today and their teams within the Uganda Wildlife Authority, the Uganda Wildlife Education Center, the National Forest Authority, and the USAID activities implementing this work for your partnership—on this N*Gen episode and in so many other areas. We value our longstanding partnership and our longstanding friendship with you. Being here today is yet another example of a successful collaboration between the United States and the people of Uganda.
Now, without any further ado, let’s get on with the show!
[NOTE: N*Gen episodes, which are free to air, are now broadcast on 44 networks in 14 African countries, shown in the United States and the Caribbean, and are also available on YouTube’s NgenTVAfrica channel.]