Israeli government plans last year for a mass deportation of African asylum-seekers created a public outcry and remain on hold. But migrant families and their children live in a painful state of uncertainty. Yet in an impoverished neighborhood in Tel Aviv is a school dedicated to helping migrant children thrive educationally and emotionally, teaching students about Israeli society while honoring their home cultures. Officials say the school can serve as a model for others around the world.
The Bialik-Rogozin school is one of the top performing schools in the country. “I have friends from Nigeria, Malta, Sudan, Eritrea, and Turkey.… It feels like home here, and for now Israel is home,” says Ariella, who was born here to Filipino parents.
From its early days the school has looked to the larger community to help fulfill its vision. That has included drafting business leaders to help raise funds from individuals and companies to help cover the annual $500,000 cost of the “extras” it provides its students. A roster of 140 volunteers now provides the backbone of enrichment and extra support for the students, from teaching classes in painting and photography and drafting high-tech companies to donate classroom technology to serving as personal mentors and tutors.
“We don’t know if they will stay here or one day return to home countries, and either way they need to know their mother tongue,” says Eli Nechama, the principal, who defends the decision to educate migrant children in separate schools, rejecting the notion it is racist. “The choice here is of a school that takes on the underdog and turns them into a star, with all doors open to them…. Look at the results: We are succeeding.”
Source Christian Science Monitor, February 6, 2019. To read the entire article, click here