Around a year ago I was looking around for a preschool - in Arabic, in Haifa - for my eldest son Jay who was 3 at the time. Let’s just say I wasn’t impressed. I guess having grown up in Finland, which supposedly has the “best education system in the world”, the contrast to the Israeli system felt pretty stark.
People always ask me why the Finnish system is considered so successful and I don’t have a specific answer. But in a nutshell, I think the key is to teach children how to learn, rather thanwhat to learn. And around here it’s certainly the ‘what’ that dominates. In the end I chose the private, alternative Arab kindergarten and school called Hewar (Arabic for ‘dialogue’). And I haven’t regretted my choice. In September all three of my little guys will be attending.
However, for the Arab minority to try to provide an educational alternative in a system that is built on conformity and oppression, is challenging to say the least. Since it was first conceived of in 2000, Hewar has fought a long battle with the Israeli authorities, simply to remain functional. Since 2006 it has not received any public funding and it wasn’t until 2012 that it finally received the official licence from the authorities to operate as a private school. It is currently fighting its third court case, this time in the Supreme Court challenging the Ministry of Education’s decision not to grant it the funding it gives every other private school in the country! Read more.
The main challenge of the school and kindergarten today is therefore financial. It currently relies entirely on tuition fees and local community support to cover its expenses. This means, first of all, that the parents at Hewar pay a very high price for the choice to offer an alternative education for their children. Second, it also means that the school is surviving on a bare minimum and lacking the means to develop, flourish and reach its maximum potential. It needs support!
So towards the end of last year I took upon myself the task of trying to raise some funds for Hewar. As part of this work, we have just been accepted to join the June 2014 challenge on Global Giving: http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/save-hewar-alternative-arab-school-in-israel/. This means during the month of June we need to raise a minimum of 5,000 USD from at least 40 donors in order to remain on the site.
I encourage everyone to donate and pass the link and donation request on to anyone who might have an interest in improving education for Arab children in Israel