EDUCATING A POTENTIALLY LOST GENERATION
Millions of children in the Middle East have been displaced by violence and are missing out on education. The SAT-7 KIDS program My School is stepping in to help prevent this vulnerable generation becoming “lost”.
Since its launch in March 2015, My School has been catering to the educational needs of the millions of refugees, internally displaced children and those who are impoverished and unable to go to school in the Arab World. My School is providing complementary education with the objective of both preparing young viewers for their future integration into physical schools, either in their host or home country, and assisting students attending formal education.
Following a successful Phase 1, in 2015, which was comprised of 90 episodes of Kindergarten 3 curriculum in the subjects of English, Arabic and Mathematics, the program is now onto Phase 2, covering the curriculum of Grade 1 in the subjects of English, Arabic, Mathematics and (new) Science. A fresh 90-minute episode is introduced every day and it is broadcast five times a week, using both the
SAT-7 KIDS and SAT-7 PLUS channels, covering all the different time-zones in the Arab World and Europe. In the coming year, SAT-7 plans to introduce more topics and expand the target age range by covering all six grades of primary school.
CHRISTIAN RESPONSE TO A GREAT NEED
Millions of children are at risk of becoming a “lost generation” deprived of the knowledge and life-skills needed to be successful adults. An alarming number of these out-of-school children and youth must work to provide for their families. Many of them are being forced into the worst forms of labour, including the smuggling of goods and sexual exploitation. And, some of the most vulnerable children and youth are being recruited as workers and combatants by armed groups.
The My School program represents SAT-7’s considered and prayerfully developed Christian response to perhaps the greatest social challenge currently facing the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) at present. SAT-7 is an unashamed advocate of human rights and every child’s right to education regardless of his or her background, ethnicity or religion. As a Christian organisation SAT-7’s commitment is to show unconditional love as Jesus himself did.
SAT-7 KIDS Broadcast and Special Projects Manager, Andrea Elmounayer reflects these values in her observation: “Jesus said ‘Love your neighbor as yourself ’, and this is exactly how we operate. We want to show our love to the refugees in our region by listening to their needs and making their voices heard. We can defy the challenges these children face by providing a well-thought-out on-air education, which is vital for their personal growth and social integration.”
BUILDING STRONG RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE COMMUNITY
My School is addressing the educational needs of the majority of displaced children in the Levant area as the on-air lessons are based on a combination of local regional Arabic curriculums, thus helping these viewers thrive – whether they stay in their host country or are eventually able to return home. Andrea further explained: “Taking into account the issues facing refugees, My School does not target a specific “age group”, but rather provides the basic education needed by any child who suffers educational challenges, whether they are displaced or underprivileged.”
To coordinate its activities, develop a well-rounded curriculum and be updated about the constantly changing context, SAT-7 is engaged in a series of dialogues with major stakeholders on the ground, and existing schools. All organisations acknowledge the significance of SAT-7 KIDS and of My School in particular, due to the show’s unique ability to reach displaced communities in a creative and effective way. SAT-7 is looking to further enhance its partnerships on the ground to achieve the successful distribution of educational materials to all those who need it. The collaboration has so far resulted in a complete curriculum, covering the first three years of the primary school. Recently, the team also added special practical segments between the lessons. Andrea says, “In response to the trauma and problems that our target audience might be facing, we have added into the programs four new segments: a drawing segment, a science experiment, therapeutic storytelling and a lifestyle segment.”
My School has so far been a resounding success. Andrea attributes its impact to two factors: the presenters, who are well-trained teachers; and the advanced educational philosophy behind the show. Andrea says that the program’s approach exposes kids to countless opportunities, including “the chance to listen, be heard, think, analyse and solve problems, and make better decisions and life-choices that will lead to a brighter future and an improved life.”
The show has been building strong relationships with its viewers. Andrea says the program is “a big milestone for SAT-7 KIDS, and it would not have been possible without the interaction, love and engagement of our audience, which has been the most inspiring part of our journey. We have received some remarkable feedback and have been able to respond to each one individually.”