My School filming complete – but lessons continue
My School, SAT-7’s pioneering program to provide high-quality complementary education in the Arab world, has wrapped up its fifth and final season. Since the program launched in 2015 in response to the war in Syria, SAT-7 has made over 400 episodes covering the region’s curriculum in the core subjects of mathematics, Arabic, English, science, and French.
At a time when 13 million children in the Arab world were out of school because of conflict 1, My School’s goal was to offer the benefits and opportunities of education through televised and online teaching.
Its success was clear from the beginning, with many children and parents thanking SAT-7 for the program’s impact. “My daughter has been watching My School since we were in Iraq, and this is why she is excelling,” said Renalda, an Iraqi mother living in Lebanon. “We love you so much. I cannot thank you enough.”
What SAT-7 did not fully anticipate was the enormous interest the program would also attract from children attending poor-quality state schools across the region, 2 as well as from adults who did not receive a decent education in their younger years. By 2018, an estimated 1.3 million people were watching, with the largest audience based in Egypt.
During the eight-year development of My School, SAT-7 has worked with educational specialists from the Middle East and partner organisations on the ground to adapt and expand the program, and its impact in the region (read more below).
And although the filming of the five seasons is now complete, My School has not ended. All episodes will continue being aired on SAT-7 KIDS and multiple social media platforms, and also shown on SAT-7’s video-on-demand service SAT-7 PLUS for years to come, providing life-enhancing opportunities for countless more families. And discussions are underway on how to adapt the content for use with different groups in future.
“I am so proud and grateful for the My School project,” said SAT-7 Chief Executive Officer Rita El-Mounayer. “It brought education into homes and refugee camps across the Middle East and North Africa, enabling children and adults to learn key subjects that will stand them in good stead for the future. We pray that many lives will be changed as a result of having free access to high-quality informal education, even as the episodes are replayed and repurposed over the coming years.”
MY SCHOOL RESULTS
Throughout the development of My School, SAT-7 has monitored its impact through pupil tests, online surveys with parents, and viewer feedback. The programs have been used in two formal classroom settings through partnerships with on-the-ground organisations, BILADI and Heart for Lebanon. Results from both centres showed that children made significant progress in many areas, both academic and behavioural. These assessments also helped to shape the content of the programs themselves, ensuring their suitability for young viewers.
The Heart for Lebanon Hope centres used My School videos to bring learning to 7 to 12-year-olds who had no educational background.
Joanna Abou Rjeily, Education Coordinator at Heart for Lebanon, shared a story from a mother whose son was often getting into trouble for fighting with other children. But when he started taking part in the My School sessions at the Hope centre, his behaviour changed. The very grateful mother told Joanna, “Now I really know the power of education. Yesterday his cousin came to him and asked him to come and fight with other groups of boys. But my son said, ‘No, I have homework to do.’”
Joanna added, “We are so happy that we had the chance to be part of this. I feel very honoured witnessing on the ground the change and the success the children made in this program.”
SAT-7 was also able to measure the effectiveness of My School through a partnership with Lebanese Alternative Learning in 2022. Episodes of the program were made available on its leading e-learning platform, Tabshoura. Online challenges before and after each episode monitored participants’ progress in both academic subjects and social skills. One young participant, Hadeel, said, “I completed all the challenges and found them funny and easy. We are learning a lot from My School.”
Involving and interacting with parents has been key to My School’s success. The results from an online survey highlighted a huge leap in parents’ awareness of the importance of education and their children’s rights as a result of watching My School.
“I can never thank you enough, you have turned my children’s lives upside down!” a mother expressed to a Heart for Lebanon staff member on the last day of school after seeing her son dance and sing in English with confidence. “He was enrolled in a public school, but I never saw him interested in education. I doubt he even knew how to write his name before, but I can say that what my child has received throughout his life does not compare to what he received this year in knowledge, love and respect.”
MY SCHOOL TIMETABLE
2015: Season 1 launches for children aged 5-6, covering the core subjects of Arabic, maths and English.
2016: Season 2 is produced for children aged 6-7 with science being added to the curriculum.
2017: Season 3, for 7-8-year-olds, adds French plus four new segments designed to break up the learning and help young viewers overcome trauma. These include therapeutic drawing and storytelling, and a simple science experiment.
Production of season 4 starts for 8-9-year-olds. Following consultations and focus groups with partner NGOs, teaching segments are shortened to 15 minutes to aid concentration. Four new segments are created, including a dance session and information about children’s rights.
My School is used for the first time in more formal classroom settings with young Syrian refugees in North Lebanon. The Cultural Heritage and Interactive Learning Development (CHILD) Centre is created in partnership with BILADI. 3
2019: My School’s online presence expands with 1,169 videos being added to YouTube –attracting over 78,000 views. Videos are also shown on Facebook with teachers hosting live streaming sessions.
2020: As the world is rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic, the closure of schools creates further demand for My School. The program receives a huge increase in phone calls, messages, and comments from viewers. 4 Throughout the pandemic, teacher-presenters offer extra tuition on social media platforms, and special live episodes help viewers to study successfully at home.
2021: A new partnership with Lebanese NGO, Heart for Lebanon, brings My School to two refugee centres in Lebanon (South and Bekaa). During the two-year collaboration, hundreds of refugee children learn core subjects and social skills by watching episodes of My School at Heart for Lebanon’s Hope centres. 5
2022: Season 5 is produced for 6-9-year-olds. Based on viewer feedback, the episodes are built on a modular approach and cut to a maximum of ten minutes.
Over 250 episodes of My School are made available on Tabshoura, a leading e-learning platform, through SAT-7’s partnership with Lebanese Alternative Learning, who are committed to using technology to support children’s educational needs. 6 Online challenges support each episode and enable participants’ progress to be measured.
2023: The final episode of My School airs on SAT-7 KIDS. All five seasons will continue being broadcast on SAT-7 KIDS, social media and SAT-7 PLUS for years to come.
2 See: Education (unicef.org)
3 See: Biladi.org
6 See: Tabshoura.com