MY SCHOOL – EDUCATION FOR REFUGEES
THE REFUGEE EDUCATION CRISIS
Following the alarming advance of so called Islamic State (IS), the children and youth of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are facing a tremendous crisis. Over 13 million children (40% of the school-age children from Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and Sudan) in the region cannot go to school because of conflict. Many are trapped in war zones, where their schools and homes have been destroyed. Others have been forced to uproot their lives, driven out of their homes by relentless fighting.
“What am I doing here? I feel sorry for myself. Before I sleep at night I imagine I’m in school studying in class, then my parents pick me up and we go home and live in peace… I wish I could go back.”
Karema* – A child living in a Lebanon Refugee Camp
Without proper educational training, employment opportunities will be minimal for these children, leaving this generation vulnerable to the recruitment tactics of religious extremists whose movements will provide work, purpose and direction for these disaffected youth.
MY SCHOOL: EDUCATING ACROSS BORDERS
On the back of 20 years ministering to the children of the MENA – and their parents – SAT-7 recognized that we have a unique platform to help bring education to those who cannot go to school. Over that time, we have built up trust and established relationships with families, who see SAT-7 as a “safe place” for their children. Now, we are providing the hope that education offers through an “on-air school” for children who cannot go to a physical classroom. Satellite TV is able to reach into refugee communities, educating an unlimited number of children in a way that overburdened states and aid agencies cannot.
Initially aimed at children aged four to eight, My School (“Madrasati” in Arabic) broadcasts every weekday, providing engaging, interactive lessons in Arabic, English, math and science based on the Syrian and Lebanese curriculums. Each episode is hosted by three fully-qualified Syrian teachers, who conduct lessons in an attractive and brightly colored classroom setting using fun songs and animation to engage with their viewers.
My School is fostering an audience by engaging with viewers directly. For example, children can apply for a My School Membership Club Card, creating a sense of belonging to the program. So far, 125 Membership Cards have been sent out, along with workbooks that help children learn to read and write in both Arabic and English. The young viewers are also given exercises to work on and send in to win prizes.