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15 August 2017

As every school child knows, September is the month when the sun finally sets on the summer holidays and a new school year gusts in! But over 13.4 million children in the Middle East and North Africa will have no school place to go to this autumn. That’s due to conflict, poverty or discrimination. And many refugee children who are now getting some schooling in host countries have missed out for five or six years and have little hope of really catching up.

This is one reason SAT-7 is launching its new ACADEMY channel on 1 September. Another is the substandard education the majority of the region’s young people receive – dominated by rote learning without understanding or critical analysis and sometimes infected by attitudes of discrimination. This is why SAT-7 ACADEMY will promote discussion, creative thinking, listening to others and respect for all.

“Education is one of the greatest answers to the problems of the Middle East.” This is the view of His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK. Bishop Angaelos is a patron of SAT-7 UK and was giving his views to SAT-7 after a key note speech at its annual NETWORK conference.

“While many don’t have access to education, they are able to be manipulated and radicalised,” he said. “The more we open our people’s minds and give them not only the ability to discern but the mechanism to actually improve their lives, have careers and input into the community [the more] significant benefit both to the individual but also to the whole region.”

Dr Mike Bassous, General Secretary of the Bible Society of Lebanon, also spoke at NETWORK. Mike co-presents a show entitled You and I with his wife Tasoula, a special education consultant. The series focuses on personal development and life skills and is specially targeted at young adults. Since education is close to both their hearts, he was lavish in his praise for SAT-7 ACADEMY.

“Our cry for an education channel dates back about a decade,” Mike said. “We have all types of channels but no one has really invested in the education of our young people. SAT-7 ACADEMY comes as an answered prayer and an answered call. Only through educating the new generation will we be able to cast new values in the region and will we be able to educate them about what democracy really means. We find that the timing of SAT-7 ACADEMY is perfect for the region.”

• Please pray for SAT-7 ACADEMY staff as they finalise the schedules for the first season and ask for God’s help for new presenters and new teams, some working together for the first time.
• Pray for the building of new relationships with the wider NGO community involved in health, education and social development.
• SAT-7 ACADEMY will be an all-age channel with programmes for mums and dads, uncles and aunts as well as children. Health education to promote healthy lifestyles and wellbeing will especially help war-displaced families adapting to new environments and circumstances. Pray for this.
• Social development programmes that promote equality and equal citizenship for all will play an important role in countering some of the deep social divisions and prejudices in Arab societies. Pray that these will help to turn back the tide of discrimination and violence against religious and ethnic minorities.
• Limited funding means that, to start with, a number of existing SAT-7 educational shows will transfer or be duplicated on the channel. Pray for more funds to facilitate a greater volume of dedicated new content.
• Give thanks for the relationships SAT-7 has with key Christian leaders such as Bishop Angaelos and Mike Bassous. Pray for them in their important spheres of ministry.
• Pray for the development of the SAT-7 ACADEMY website that will offer a wealth of educational content and “catch up” access to program.