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15 May 2018

Roy Saab has been a consultant for SAT-7 ACADEMY since its early stages of development. He is an experienced educator and curriculum developer, currently directing an Education in Emergencies project in Lebanon. Roy explains the channel’s potential and its role in the future of education across the Arab World.

“SAT-7 ACADEMY addresses not only the immediate crisis of the Middle East but also the global crisis of education,” says Saab. “Kids everywhere are going to school but not learning much, and parents are not learning much about parenting. So the channel addresses the whole household: the parent, the child, and teachers watching at home.”

Many people around the world recognise that the traditional model of education, developed around 150 years ago as a response to the Industrial Revolution, is outdated. Some would argue that this system is no longer relevant for preparing children for adulthood or the workplace.

Although change is needed, there is resistance to implementing experimental methods of teaching, partly because change comes at a cost that very few institutions are willing to pay.

However, the refugee crisis in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has forced governments to find alternatives to formal education and even to accept non-formal models being presented by non-governmental organisations.

SAT-7 ACADEMY is one such viable alternative for meeting the needs of refugee and displaced children, and of others who cannot attend school. Broadcasting educational programs in Arabic 24/7 on satellite television, SAT-7 ACADEMY makes quality education accessible to millions of children in their own homes.

“There is a generation that is not receiving formal education,” Saab explains. “They are staying at home – we can reach those children through television.” In poor households where families cannot afford to send all their children to school, for instance, or where boys have priority over girls, everyone can benefit and no-one is excluded.

“SAT-7 ACADEMY is not just for refugees,” Saab emphasises. “Only 20 percent of the channel’s viewers are refugees.” Saab explains that according to UNICEF’s MENA Regional Fact Sheet on Out-of-School Children (OOSC) issued in February 2018, there are 15 million OOSC’s in the region. If the refugee crisis never happened, an estimated 3 million would have been in school.

“This means that 12 million children were not going to be in school anyway. That’s 12 million Arabic-speaking children who have no access to education, with or without the war and refugee crisis. SAT-7 ACADEMY can reach them.”

With this channel, education in the region is no longer limited to a specific location, time, or community. It is more accessible and more relevant. “I genuinely believe in this channel,” Saab asserts. “It has the potential to reform education as we know it and influence the whole of society in this part of the world. It can reach millions of people – anyone who speaks Arabic. It is not limited to a country, or to a class, or to people with Internet access. It is truly for everyone.”