A new partnership between SAT-7 ACADEMY and the Lebanese organization Heart for Lebanon brings the primary education program My School to two centers for Syrian refugees. The Helping Overcome Poverty through Education (HOPE) project, which seeks to improve learning outcomes for children not in formal education, is already changing lives.
“This girl had no hope of doing anything except playing with rocks. Now, she knows the letters of her name,” says Joanna Abou Rjeily, Educational Program Coordinator with Heart for Lebanon. Manal’s* story, she says, is an example of the difference the HOPE schooling project is already making.
Manal is among more than 100 children aged six to 10 who recently began attending My School program sessions three days a week at Heart for Lebanon’s two centers in Bekaa Valley and in Southern Lebanon. The children are learning Arabic, English, and Math by watching episodes from seasons one through four of the Arabic education series. These children, who have never attended school before, are now not only learning but experiencing school, meeting teachers and friends just like others who go to school every day.
The difference in Manal, a young girl who attends the sessions and lives in a nearby refugee camp, is clear to see. ”Because refugees living in the camps of Southern Lebanon have not been exposed to any children’s or educational programs, they can be antagonistic towards teachers,” says Joanna. “Manal used to throw rocks at me whenever I visited the camps.” But since joining the HOPE schooling program and watching My School, Manal’s attitude has changed.
“When the teacher was explaining the letter “M”, she started imitating and saying, ‘Me, me! My name starts with M!’ Then she began looking around her for the letter on books and pencils,” says Joanna.
And Manal is one of many children who might otherwise have had little hope of education or a future. Joanna adds, “These more than 100 kids who are now sitting on our benches are receiving an education in areas where it is very difficult for Syrian refugees to attend school.” She can also see a change in other children who have begun learning social behaviors, such as being able to stand in line to board the school’s bus.
“I am grateful for the partnership Heart for Lebanon has with SAT-7. I am sure this partnership will be a tremendous blessing to many children,” shares Camille Melki, CEO of Heart for Lebanon. In addition to watching My School classes at the centers, children will also be given electronic tablets for extra support and help at home. This way, students can re-watch the episodes of My School to reinforce their learning.
Children’s academic progress will be assessed through quizzes and tests after finishing every season of My School. Teachers will not only comment on the progress of the children academically, but also socially.
“We can now use the fruitful assets of the My School episodes to give hope to so many children who have no access to education,” says Joanna.
*Name changed to protect identity.