Tuesday, June 12, 2007

New Israel Fund: Towards Active Citizenship

In Israel too, community service, or “active citizenship,” is being introduced into the school system. For the past several years, NIF has been at the forefront of this effort. The Education for Active Citizenship Program, a partnership between NIF and the Israel Venture Network (IVN), has piloted, in full coordination with the Ministry of Education, a unique and unprecedented model for strengthening civic education and active citizenship in Israel through a combination of in-class coursework and out-of-classroom service activities.

The “active” part of the program is based on the integration of mandatory community service with classroom learning for all students. Each student participates in a school-based or a community-service based project of his/her own development or choosing. Students practice what they have learned in the classrooms, connecting new insights and understanding of social issues to working in the community to solve problems.

During the 2007-2008 school year, the NIF/IVN pilot project continued for a second year in Sderot and initiated activities in Kiryat Shmona and Tuba-Zangariye, an Arab town near Kiryat Shmona. Ironically, all of the pilot towns suffered direct hits from missiles during the past year. Nonetheless, the Active Citizenship program was launched with great enthusiasm in all participating schools and helped students and teachers become active in strengthening social and civic values in these peripheral, war-torn cities.

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