The Story of Entertainment-Education

In 1969, a poor girl named Maria stole the hearts of soap opera viewers throughout Peru. Maria, the heroine of the hit drama, Simplemente Maria, passed through many trials and tribulations after migrating to Lima, the capital city, from the countryside. She was swept off of her feet and then left pregnant and alone. Determined to make a life for her and her son, Maria enrolled in a literacy class and became a seamstress. With time, she became a respected and successful business woman. True to soap opera style, she and her literacy professor fell in love and got married and all lived happily ever after.

The show was wildly popular, so much so that more than 10,000 people brought gifts to the church the day the television crew filmed the wedding. And no wonder it was popular. It was a beautiful story; a story with real-life consequences.

As a result of the broadcast, enrollment in adult literacy classes soared. Also, sales of Singer sewing machines shot through the roof. They were so high, that Singer awarded the actress who played Maria a sewing machine made of gold as a thank you.

The Peruvian drama caught the eye of Miguel Sabido, a television producer in Mexico. After careful analysis of Simplemente Maria, Miguel developed and piloted a methodology for producing entertaining programs with a big impact: Entertainment-Education.

Since that time, E-E has gone through many iterations and adapted to the rapidly changing media landscape, but continues to be an effective way of generating wide-spread social change throughout the world.

The Power of A Story

From the earliest human existence, stories have helped us to understand and shape our world, enabling us to share our experiences with one another. Stories inspire us, teach us, move us, and in so doing… they change the world. Entertainment-Education programs draw on our deep affinity for stories to reveal worlds of new possibilities, where dramatic conflicts and decisions are tied to real world consequences. The choices that characters make center on critical social issues, illuminating pathways to change, adoption of new behaviors, and ultimately lead to a world of hope. Targeted social, health and environmental issues are key plot elements in Entertainment-Education programs. Characters serve as role models to bring these concepts to life. Audience members become emotionally tied to program characters, and these ties influence values and inspire behaviors much more powerfully than direct appeals for change.

What is Entertainment Education

Entertainment-Education is the process of purposely designing and implementing a media message to both entertain and educate. This is done to increase audience members’ knowledge about an educational issue, create favorable attitudes and influence behavior and cultural norms.