Since 1996, international broadcaster SAT-7 has aired educational and social impact programming to viewers across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). As a result of the unprecedented needs in the region at this time, and in response to the region’s education crisis, SAT-7 Education & Development was founded in 2016 to leverage decades of broadcast experience and audience acceptance to advance educational and developmental initiatives.
In Summer 2017, SAT-7 will premiere its SAT-7 ACADEMY television service. The 24/7 educational channel aims to inspire impactful, life-long learning across the MENA. SAT-7 Education & Development is committed to the successful sponsorship and execution of this far-reaching program activity.
The Middle East and North Africa is in the grip of a crisis in children’s education. From 2003-2009, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) cited inadequate education as one of three key factors holding the MENA back. Since then, instability and violence have further blighted the region. Devastating conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya have displaced millions and brought the educational system in many places to breaking point.
More than 21 million children – one in five in the region – are at risk of missing out on an education. Thirteen million are out of school altogether. These children are fast becoming a “lost generation” that is extremely vulnerable to radicalization. Schools in countries that have accepted large numbers of Syrians are especially overcrowded and now struggling to serve both their own and the refugee children.
Even in areas not directly affected by conflict, many children are not in school because of poverty, or even simply because they are girls. When Middle Eastern students can attend school, their teachers are often ill-equipped and poorly trained, teaching by rote learning alone and reliant on violence to maintain discipline. The skills that help build character and shape better communities are not being taught. Parents, too, are in need of guidance to help them support truly meaningful learning for their children.
Hope for tomorrow
In response to this dire need, in 2017 SAT-7 will launch a new television service, SAT-7 ACADEMY – a 24/7 educational channel that aims to inspire impactful, life-long learning across the MENA. The channel will bring hope to refugees and displaced and underprivileged children and provide vital educational opportunities for their parents and teachers. It aims to support, not to replace, classroom-based learning.
Later in the year, a special, interactive website and on-line viewing service will follow the launch of this new satellite television service.
The new channel reflects SAT-7’s holistic and humanitarian objectives, and the network will work with well-known NGOs who are highly experienced in providing education.
Dr. Terence Ascott, Chief Executive Officer of SAT-7, spoke of the channel’s potential impact:
“We are talking about actual audience sizes of millions. But, even if we were only to impact the lives of a few thousand children, it would still be worth it. One viewer can grow up to be a real instrument of change in their society. One of these children could even be the future President of his or her country.”
SAT-7 staff have seen first-hand that many Syrian refugees have access to a television and satellite dish although they have very little else. Many Syrian refugees are already watching SAT-7’s educational program, My School, which is currently broadcast on SAT-7 KIDS. As many cannot attend school at all in their host countries, the opportunity that SAT-7 ACADEMY presents will be truly life-changing for many children, as well as for parents and teachers throughout the region.
Contributing to the good of society
The mission statement of SAT-7 ACADEMY goes far beyond helping children learn to read and write. Dr. Ascott explains the channel’s holistic approach:
“Education is about developing positive values and attitudes. We want to shape an inclusive, creative and democratic society of children, parents, and teachers. And we hope that our holistic approach will allow
SAT-7 ACADEMY to make its mark in these important areas.”
The programs will encourage children to treat those who are different from them as equals, and it will teach the critical thinking skills that help youngsters understand that situations are not always black and white. Teachers will be encouraged to move towards classroom practices that enable creative decision-making. In this way, SAT-7 hopes to help build more tolerant, inclusive societies in the Arabic-speaking world.
SAT-7 invests in society
Rita Elmounayer, SAT-7’s Chief Channels and Communications Officer, speaks of the need to act now and prevent this generation becoming truly “lost”:
“If we don’t invest in education that teaches not only knowledge but values and tolerance, others will invest in teaching conflicting values. And we have seen the result of that: radicalism, extremism, and insurgency.”
In launching SAT-7 ACADEMY, SAT-7 aims to transform young lives: to bring children hope for the future, opportunities for work and further study, and the chance to participate, along with their teachers and parents, in transforming the Middle East and North Africa for the better.
Launched in 1996, with its international headquarters in Cyprus, SAT-7 broadcasts in the Arabic, Farsi, and Turkish languages on four channels.
SAT-7 Education & Development is a registered Foundation in Cyprus and a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation in the USA. To view the 2016 IRS 990 Public Disclosure form, click here.