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03/26/2017 - Striving for Academic Success on the Social and Geographic Periphery: Negba’s Learning Center

At Negba, a child’s academic progress is seen as a critical component in the advancement to higher education or a vocation. The daily schedules at Negba’s after-school Homes and Clubs incorporate informal education, homework assistance, individual use of an adaptive math technology computer program, and more.

But more educational engagement is needed to truly advance these children at-risk. Negba’s lay Education Committee, headed by pedagogic specialists Danielle Luzon and Claudie Harari, conducted a comprehensive assessment of Negba’s children’s academic capabilities in consultation with the children’s school teachers, to examine and more precisely understand the challenges. Their findings were alarming. Approximately 80% of children at Negba are below the average levels of children in their grades; their Hebrew reading is poor, and their English reading is very low. Levels were better in mathematics, thanks to Negba’s use of the adaptive math program, which demonstrates that the children are able to progress when given appropriate learning tools.

The Education Committee’s recommendations were that Negba intensively deepen its educational component for its children and teens and launch a Learning Center through which ultimately all of Negba’s children and youth will receive individualized targeted academic instruction or remedial instruction, depending on need. In October 2015 Negba launched a first phase of the Learning Center, offering remedial instruction at 4 Negba after-school Homes to 24 select children ages 7-9 with severe academic disparities in basic reading, writing and math skills. In October 2016 the Learning Center then began offering individualized targeted academic instruction to youth ages 13-17 at Negba’s Teen Club. And in the first months of 2017, an additional 18 children ages 10-12 began to receive individualized academic instruction. After Pesach 25 more children ages 10-12 in Jerusalem and Beersheva will begin receiving individual instruction to help them transition into middle school.

The first time Ma’ayan sat down with her Learning Center instructor she had no clue why she needed to be there. During the first sessions her instructor sensitively explained the benefits of targeted one-on-one instruction. Ma’ayan slowly began to study math and to develop basic skills. From session to session it was easy to see her progress, and she eagerly looks forward to each lesson, asking if she and her instructor can sit in a quiet corner where she can concentrate better. Ma’ayan now knows to ask the right questions, and she is now able to solve exercises without being afraid of them- even the longer equations no longer threaten her. Thanks to the Learning Center, Ma’ayan has a brighter academic future in store for herself.

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