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ON WORLD EDUCATION DAY, SAT-7 STANDS FOR LEARNING FOR ALL

24 January 2020

As we celebrate World Education Day (24 Jan), SAT-7 ARABIC launches a new season of Follow Up, a first-of-its-kind program with education’s role in peace-building at its heart. The show helps parents and teachers support all children, including those with special educational needs, to thrive in the Middle East’s under-resourced school systems and go on to take their places in society.

“If we want to live in peace, the only solution is education. True education not only adds knowledge – it teaches values, communication, life skills, and respect for others. Education is the arms that will build a better world, and by supporting education programming, you are working for peace,” says Dr Nada Mouawad, Presenter of Follow Up.

In a region where millions are out of school, Follow Up aims to enable as many children as possible to successfully complete their education by countering the pressures that hold them back. The discussion show brings children, parents and teachers together to learn, with expert support, how to resolve problems that can impact learning – educating viewers of all backgrounds at the same time. “The biggest change I want to see in our region is that there would be no children who cannot go school,” says Dr Mouawad, who is an educational sciences professor. In the show’s successful first season, she tackled the issue of the lack of education for refugees and the problem of child labour, guiding viewers to NGOs they can approach for further support.

Many episodes also focus on supporting children with special educational needs, including dyslexia and ADHD. In the Middle East and North Africa, Dr Mouawad explains, children with special educational needs are often held back by a lack of understanding from the adults around them. “We work with parents first, because parents are the ones directly responsible,” Dr Mouawad explains. Due to a lack of understanding, many parents of children with special educational needs believe their children are simply not working hard enough. Knowing how to communicate with their child well and support them in their schoolwork can make a big difference, says the presenter.

The show also helps teachers to support all children in their classes. “Sometimes teachers tell parents that they cannot have their children in the class because they have special educational needs,” she says, explaining that parents are often told to seek specialist help that they cannot access or afford. “They tell them it is not good for the other students. But part of school is preparing children to understand and accept others. We should work for inclusion.”

Many viewers contact Dr Mouawad through Follow Up, and via the Facebook Live sessions she hosts, to share how much they needed to hear her advice. One episode, which featured the story of a young man with physical disabilities, received a particularly strong positive response. “When John was on the program, he shared about all the activities he does, such as swimming and skiing, and how he is integrated in school. His story is a very good example to others, and he gave hope to other children watching.”

The first season also covered social issues such as bullying, violence in schools, and sexual health education, which remains taboo in much of the region. Topics planned for the second season include dyspraxia, dysphasia, and autism, as well as broader subjects such as school friendships and new educational technology.

Along with Follow Up, the SAT-7 ACADEMY brand produces My School, its flagship primary education program that offers televised learning for out-of-school children.