SEATTLE — School is up and running for displaced children in the Middle East and North Africa on satellite television. Produced by SAT-7 KIDS satellite TV channel, the My School program is in session five days a week for 90 minutes. It is one solution in the struggle to reach 58 million primary school children around the globe who are not attending school right now due to conflicts, natural disasters or poverty.
Many children in refugee camps are still able to watch TV. In fact, it is often the only activity they have. My School is a rare opportunity for displaced children to continue learning while they cannot attend their own schools or even a make-shift school in a refugee camp. It was launched in March primarily for the Syrian and Iraqi children relocated due to conflict, but also reaches other children in the region who cannot attend due to reasons connected to poverty.
Nearly 1.5 million Syrian refugees are under 18-years-old, and three to four million additional Syrian and Iraqi children are internally displaced. My School is one way to avoid another lost generation of an uneducated population.
My School is geared for children ages four to seven, but even older children who are missing school can benefit from viewing this program. Watching My School, children are taught core subjects, such as Arabic (their native language), English and mathematics. Three presenters, all qualified teachers and specialists in teaching children in conflict situations, prepare engaging and exciting lessons. Children are encouraged to participate in educational games, quizzes and competitions. To have their progress evaluated, children can complete tests online.
SAT-7 KIDS was created by SAT-7, the first Arabic-Christian satellite television channel. SAT-7 was launched in 1995 with a 2-hour a week program and grew to five 24-hour channels in different languages. SAT-7 for KIDS is the first and only Arabic-Christian television channel for children and has over nine million viewers under the age of 15. Its website won the Gold Prize at the Pan-Arab Web Awards Competition in 2012.
The Executive Director of SAT-7 KIDS, Rita Elmounayer, is particularly concerned about the future of youth under 18 who make up about 33 percent of the population in the Middle East. She said, “…you can imagine what kind of future we would have with frustrated and unemployed youth having few or no skills.”
This year, SAT-7 joined A World at School to help fill the gap in education for displaced children. Elmounayer said that “…it is our global hope to raise up a new generation of Arabs who are willing to think for themselves, produce more free and democratic societies where people can learn to live together and accept each other. This will help build not only a better Middle East, but a better world!”