Opening of the 1998 - 99 School Year

On the morning of September 1 our school opened to the usual hustle and bustle of happy children and happier parents. The one thing that was immediately apparent was that the school had grown even more quickly than we anticipated. The Niwano classroom which, until now had served as an assembly hall, is no longer large enough to accommodate the pupils, the staff and the parents at the same time. Firstdy1.jpg (36295 bytes)
Because of this, the general assembly of the first morning was held outside in the grounds of the school. The children were then divided into their various classrooms. For many these were in new locations. The third and fourth grades have been moved to rooms previously occupied by the pre-kindergarten group, next door to the kindergarten. To make room for them, the three – to – four-year old group of the pre-kindergarten has been temporarily moved to another location; a prefabricated building close to the village entrance.

 

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Extra-Curricular Activities

This year, the School has an impressive number of extracurricular activities, which take place on Friday mornings. These include sculpture, science, model plane making, football, music and dance.

Appearance at the Knesset

The Abraham Fund has invited the Primary School to form a group of children who will sing as a choir at an Abraham Fund Grant Giving Ceremony at the Knesset, in the presence of the Speaker of the House, Dan Tichon. The Ceremony will take place in November.

Statistics for 1998 - 99

The school opened with a total of 217 students in the school, out of which 181 are from 19 separate communities outside of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam. One hundred and seventy students are in the Primary School, the remainder in the pre-school frameworks.

Curriculum Development

The School’s status as an “experimental school” requires the staff to put the school’s curriculum into writing during the course of this year. This demand serves as an incentive for more in-depth study before the curriculum can be formulated. A serious step that the school management has taken is to invite Dr. Jane Brauer, an expert in bilingual education from the USA. Jane first visited the Village during the 1998 Spring study tour of the American Friends. She will spend the week of November 8 to 13th with the staff, helping with curriculum development. At the end of the week the School staff will discuss whether to continue cooperation and pursue a serious research proposal. The expenses of Jane’s visit are being covered by a grant from the American Embassy.

End of 1997 - 98 School Year Activities

The enrollment in the entire children’s educational system this school year numbered 157 children, of which 119 were enrolled in the school. Fifteen Arab and Jewish children graduated this year.

At the end of the school year, parents were invited to see an exhibit of the children's work and to a closing ceremony with drama and music performances by the children. The theme of the exhibition was the 50th celebration of Israel’s statehood, and the parallel remembrance of the Palestinian al-Naqba (“the Disaster”). The exhibition was prepared by the art teacher, Diana Shalufi-Rizek, together with the teachers. Short films produced by the children were screened by the video teacher, Hezzie Schuster.

Lasday2.jpg (64398 bytes)The evening continued with a rich program of  performances  arranged by the drama teacher, Dafna Karta-Schwartz. Diplomas were presented to the graduating children, who, their time in NSWAS' primary school at an end, would be going on to separate Jewish and Arab junior high schools.

Work with Macedonians

A group of 12 teachers and 14 educational directors from Macedonia (including ethnic Albanians) came, as planned, for a week-long training in the establishment of bilingual kindergarten. The program featured talks by NS/WAS educational staff, observation of classes and activities, and informal activities. The visit followed upon Boaz and Aishe’s visit to Macedonia earlier this year. The program here was complicated by language and translation problems, however the educators seemed impressed. Though the Macedonians covered all of their accommodation expenses, they were able to pay only half of the costs of the program here. The rest, $4,500, was taken from our operational expenses, and we seek donors.

The next stage of the program, as requested by the participants, will consist of an evaluation to be conducted by our staff, in another visit to Macedonia. If necessary (according to this evaluation) another in-service training will be conducted here. For additional information about the contact with Macedonia, please see the article by Bob Mark.

Work with Greeks

During the week following the visit by the Macedonians, a group of Greek university researchers and school teachers came for a seminar on multicultural education. Contact with the Greeks was originally made during a visit of Prof. Talia Dragoonas, from the University of Athens. Shortly afterwards, Anwar was invited to the University for a conference. Impressed by what they heard of our methods, the Greek researchers and educators arranged to visit. They were interested to examine the possibilities of providing multicultural education to ethnic Turks (whom they term as “Moslems”) and other minorities. We gave the group lectures on the political situation and on language considerations in Israel. We also delivered presentations on how we relate to the teaching of a second language. However, the majority of the program time was spent in workshops on our teaching methods and the use of art as a language of communication. We do not know what will be the results of these efforts. One difficulty is that the Greek government allows the use of other languages only in schools of peripheral or border areas.

Enlarging the Primary School

The Primary School is attempting to develop towards the addition of Junior High School (seventh to ninth grade) levels. It is doing so by strengthening the lower grade levels; attempting to add two new first grade classes each year. The effect is that the school is growing at a rate of about 30% per year. In the next school year, the enrollment is expected to grow to around 210 children in the entire educational system, with around 160 in the Primary School.   This means that we are in urgent need of new classroom space.  This has been temporarily addressed by partitioning the Niwano Room, making extra classroom space in the library, moving the pre-kindergarten to a temporary location, together with last year's construction of an entirely new classroom under the existing school building, at ground level.  However, it is obvious that these efforts do not provide a permanent solution, and we are beginning to plan a new building.  Though it had been hoped to complete additional classrooms on the roof of the existing school building, engineers eventually decided that the existing building would not be able to carry the additional weight.  We are now considering our options for building close by the school buildings.


 

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