Amid rising COVID-19 cases in many countries, Middle Eastern families are dealing with varying degrees of disruption to the school year. In a region where many already faced barriers to attending school, SAT-7 ACADEMY is a lifeline of support, helping bridge gaps in primary education and between parents, children and teachers.
“We started school online, but I have internet problems at home during classes. I also have a great deal of homework after school hours,” says Sandra, a viewer in Kuwait, on SAT-7 KIDS. Viewer Theresa also shares that she is finding virtual learning difficult. “We lost direct contact with my teacher. I was hoping to return to school for communication with them,” she says.
As in schools and families across the world, pupils in the MENA are having to adapt rapidly to new ways of learning, with many schools either fully or partly online.
But many families in the region are having to navigate these changes while living with entrenched poverty, economic crisis or a lack of technology to access schooling. In the very worst of these situations, the combined effect of these conditions can drive children to despair and desperation.
Having pioneered primary education programmes by satellite television and online for several years, SAT-7 ACADEMY has been ideally placed to offer Arabic-language distance learning. Programmes cover literacy, maths, science, and foreign languages. Since the beginning of the pandemic, viewer engagement with SAT-7 ACADEMY has increased by 330 percent.
Space to talk
In response to the fears and questions many families have about the new school year, SAT-7 ACADEMY is also providing expert support to parents. Parenting advice programme The Coach took live calls about virtual learning in a recent episode, allowing parents to ask for advice. Some shared their worries about connectivity problems and lack of teacher interaction, while working parents expressed concern about leaving their children alone at home with a laptop or iPad.
Ihab Maged, counsellor and presenter of The Coach, also guided parents on how best to support their children. “This is a revolutionary era, and parents must adapt as soon as they can to help their children be education-seekers instead of passive learners. The parents’ role now is to guide their children, not monitor them awaiting grades,” he explained.
“I’m not afraid anymore”
Meanwhile, presenter Marianne Awaraji ministered to the needs of SAT-7 KIDS’ youngest viewers on her programme Allo Marianne. She encouraged children learning at home to limit other screen time, practise sports, and safely meet with their friends in small groups in order to help their emotional and psychological wellbeing.
Steven, a viewer of the programme, called to say, “The first day of school I was worried about going and about wearing a mask, and a little afraid that others wouldn’t take precautions. But after some time, I got used to it and I’m not afraid anymore.” Another viewer, Abdel, also called in: “I’m a little afraid to go back to school because of the coronavirus. But we must have faith.”
- Pray for Middle Eastern children with limited or no access to technology, that they will still be able to receive an education.
- Praise God for SAT-7’s ACADEMY educational programmes and the important gap they fill.
- Pray for Middle Eastern parents and teachers, that they will know how best to support children as they learn from home.
- Pray for the estimated 15 million children who were already unable to attend school in the MENA because of conflict, crisis and poverty.