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Opening ceremony in the auditorium

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Ety as traffic director

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'welcome to first grade'

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checking when's the next school holiday?

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reunited with old friends

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first day dynamics in the kindergarten

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storybook time

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somebody new in my life

The NSWAS Primary School opens the school year for the first time as an 'official extra-regional school'

(September 1 2000)

September 1 2000:  The NSWAS Children’s Educational Framework opened its gates today for the new school year with more children than ever before.  And if this wasn’t enough of a reason to celebrate, something else was new.  A few days before the opening of term, the Primary School had been declared an “official, extra-regional school” by Israel’s Education Ministry. The decision should place the school on a more sound economic footing, and indicates that binational education, as practiced at NSWAS, is seen as fully legitimate by the Israeli education authorities. The School will also remain an Experimental School

 A lot of work went into obtaining its official status, which was first promised the School management earlier this year, in a meeting with Yossi Sarid, who was then the Minister of Education and Culture.  Despite this firm promise, many hurdles lay ahead.  Prior to this school year, the School has been known as a “recognized, non-official school” – a status which guaranteed only limited funding.  The main problem that lay ahead was less the conversion of the school to be an “official” school than the difficulty in making it also an “extra-regional school.”  Most schools serve the area of their local municipal authority, in our case the Mateh Yehuda Regional Council.  The problem is that only a third of our pupils actually come from the area of the Council – the rest commute from further afield.  Furthermore, within Mateh Yehuda there are two other communities with a significant Arab population (besides Wahat al-Salam itself).

 Despite our optimism over the new status, it is so new that we still have no idea what this actually means for us economically.  NSWAS’ educational framework is comparatively more expensive than the average school. We are obliged to provide unique programs and additional teaching hours, and smaller classes, in order to provide a balanced and functioning binational framework where all of the children feel at home and be successful with their studies.  Furthermore, we lose various categories of support by the local authority (such as transportation expenses) since most of our students come from outside the area of our regional council. We will now need to negotiate with the Education authorities to discover how we can increase State funding. Until then, we must continue to ask our supporters and friends’ associations to continue their generous support - without which we will not be able to keep the school open.

 This year, the School and the three pre-school divisions have a combined student body of 290 pupils.  Of these, some 250 attend the School in Grades 1 to 6.  We have been steadily increasing the enrollment from the lower grades, so that two years from now we will have a large enough group to expand the school into a junior high school. 

In order to open the school to students from grade levels 7 to 9, we will need to build an entirely new building. One of the problems arising from the unresolved issue of State funding is that this places our building plans on hold.  We have partial funding from donors for the construction of a new school building.  As an official school we can now apply to construct a building from State funds.  If we would begin to build now with our own funds, we would no doubt spoil our chances to obtain such funding later.  So, despite the squeeze and the challenge of attempting to bring more and more children into our now overcrowded facilities, we will need to be patient a little longer before being able to make an improvement.

The teaching faculty

One of the principal resources of any educational institution is its faculty.  And in our case, it is harder than usual to find teachers who are able to cope with the special challenges of a binational framework.  Over the years we have managed to build an excellent core staff, and every year new teachers join this framework.  This year we have three new teachers, and are pleased to welcome back Aishe Najjar, our kindergarten teacher, after a one-year sabbatical.  Bernadette Laius, who taught the kindergarten during Aishe's absence, will begin to teach first grade this year.  Among the new teachers is Rim Nashef - one of the new residents who moved to NSWAS over the summer.  Rim will be serve as a home room teacher and teach English.  Over the summer, the Jewish teachers took part in intensive Arabic courses (at beginner and advanced levels) given by two professional teachers of Ulpan Akiva.  They will continue to study Arabic during the school year.  The Arab teachers, meanwhile, took part in a course specializing in the teaching of Arabic as a foreign language.