Friday, September 9

Education, Jaffa-style

Someone send me this link, to show there ARE reasons for optimism in Jaffa, and ofcourse there is some truth in that statement.

Yet most kids cannot attend the expensive private schools such as Tabeetha, Terra Santa, Freres and the very new and wonderful "Jaffa" school run by the Arabita organization. The other children have no choice but to attend the public schools.

Israel has a separate school system for Arabs and Jews. Guess where most of the funding goes. The illnesses of the Arab public school system are difficult to cure for many reasons. Some efforts are made by some people (e.g. at the "Kaf Bet" high school) but most schools are the pits. There is a lot of violence (also by staff towards students) and learning is not high on the priority list.

Many children drop out at a very young age. The official Arab school drop-out rate (in Jaffa) is 53%! But reality is even worse. Many children are registered, but never visit school. As the schools receive per-capita funding, they have no interest in reporting those children, some of them as young as 12 years old. These children are not counted in the drop out rate, although effectively they should be.

The department for the advancement of youth ("kidum noar") reaches out to these drop-outs and can assist them with schooling, but they also receive their funding only if they have a certain number of children in their informal frameworks. And, magic, as long as a child is registered at a school, he or she cannot be registered for the informal program for dropouts.
And ofcourse these kids keep being registered formally, as the schools do not wish to loose their funding. Thus, the children loose on both accounts.

Last year a small group of 6 drop-out girls (some of them as young as 13) was to start a special, high quality, pilot program geared to their personal needs. Everybody agreed it was a great idea, as these girls are in grave danger, living on the streets etc.. they would receive individual schooling in a very supportive setting which would also cater to their emotional needs. The specially designed framework w9ould let them experience success by using innovative educational methods carried out by specially trained teachers and other staff.

The program never took off, as the girls are formally registered (although they had been kicked out from all the schools they ever visited including, surprise surprise, the school in which they are still registered).

Yesterday i spent a few hours talking to a 12 year old Muslim girl who wants to leave school. Last year she came back home form school crying every single day. The school year started last sunday and with it the hel she has to go through: she's beaten up and bullied by her classmates again and again.
Last year some intervention was carried out, but it did not really help.
She wants to quit and sees no alternative.

She is 12 years old and already feels powerless, hopeless, defeated.

I could tell you about another little girl i know, also 12 years old. She is registered at the same school, but did not attend school at all, last year.
She has a "supervision order" from the juvenile court, but nobody actually carried out the supervision. She hangs around in the streets, day and night. She carries out all kinds of mischief (if that word is still applicable to the things she does, but at 12 there is no criminal responsibility in Israel) and is reall in danger. She is a victim of violence in the family, which was reported to social services, but nothing was done.
She is highly intelligent, but is not able to read nore write. Probably dyslexia, but i don't think anybody ever bothered to diagnose. Insetad they place children like her in special slow classes. Which is ofcourse the worst you can do. She is VERY intelligent and gets bored quickly, so she starts to act out. This ofcourse starts a chain reaction ending in her never ever visiting school.

And not much can be done, as there are no real educational frameworks for Arab girls who can no longer stay at home nor at school. So, yes her family is dangerous, she does not function. she probably should be in a special framework which can answer her needs, protect her and also allow her to develop her very good abilities.

Instead she is out on the streets.

Adalah are leading a legal battle for opening special educational frameworks for Arab girls who need protection and extra help. Until then, these girls are left to fend for themselves. And they are loosing.

But maybe that's what someone high up there wants. Or am i being paranoid?

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