"Gap Year Program"
“I learned things that I didn’t even know existed”December 2019 Newsletter
600 high school graduates participated in the Gap Year program facilitated by Kav Mashve, an Israeli non-profit organization. The program provides Arab high school graduates with the skills and proficiencies required for quality integration in academic studies. Danny Gal: “We have developed an innovative strategy that has been proven in the field and has helped hundreds of high school graduates during one of the most sensitive times in their lives.”
In recent years, there has been an impressive increase in the integration of Arab high school graduates in Israel’s institutions of higher education. However, parallel to this positive growth, the first year of academic studies remains the most challenging and difficult for the average Arab student. As a result of these hardships and challenges, a significant percentage of Arab students either drop out (10-15%) or change their field of studies. “There are a number of reasons for this phenomenon,” says Danny Gal, Kav Mashve CEO.
“First, is the lack of cultural orientation in Israel due to the segregated nature of the education system and places of living; second is the lack of independent learning style that is required in the academic studies (due to traditional and outdated education mainly in public schools); and third, there is the obvious issue of age—the average Arab student is 3-4 years younger than the average Jewish student and therefore less mature,” Gal stresses.
In response to this reality, in early 2019 Kav Mashve, with the support of Bank Hapoalim, developed the Gap Year program, which was based on a comprehensive position paper that presented the problem and proposed series of recommendations and operative steps to improve the readiness of high school graduates in Arab society for a smooth and quality integration in academic studies.
“The program’s challenge was how to formulate the content and make it accessible to the target audience in the most effective way,” says Anob Monder, Gap Year coordinator at Kav Mashve. “We all know how much these young people are over stimulated from all directions, and how hard it is to ‘capture’ their attention. Therefore, we chose to incorporate the program in the most relevant framework for high school graduates, that is, preparatory courses for the psychometric exams. The program is comprised of three parts: instruction for psychometric exams, training and preparation for the academic and career world and professional guidance, and improving Hebrew language skills.”
At this stage, Kav Mashve chose to cooperate with Infinity, one of the leading psychometric institutes in the Arab society, which operates numerous branches in in larger Arab localities. “As far as we’re concerned, cooperation with Kav Mashve complements our vision and the process of preparing the students for academia,” says Dr. Alaa Khalaileh, Infinity CEO, adding that “the preparation and guidance prior to entering academic life are greatly needed. We know that the percentage of dropouts and transfers between fields among Arab students in the first years in academia is higher in comparison with all other students. The advantage for the student participating in the Gap Year is double—preparation for both the psychometric exam and for academic life.”
The necessity for the program and its impact on the participants in the class of 2019 were immediately obvious. Bassel Adawi (18), a program graduate from Tur’an village who plans on studying computer science, supports Gap Year enthusiastically: “I learned a lot of things about the academic world that I didn’t even know existed. The things I learned, especially things related to the field I want to study, were very helpful and no less important than what we learned in preparation for the psychometric exam. The program helped me see where I’ll be in ten years! Also, the Hebrew language skills that I acquired helped me significantly in preparing for university studies. In my opinion, the contents of the program should be taught to all Arab high school students.”
Bassal’s feedback is not foreign to anyone involved in the program, especially the group facilitators and counselors. “The participants were both very interested in the subject matter and excited when they realized that they were actually speaking Hebrew. They were delighted to discover that mistakes are met with understanding and even love. Their confidence in the language increased,” says Gil Nissel, a group facilitator and employment counselor who conducted workshops in spoken and academic Hebrew. “We taught them a ‘new language,’ that is, Hebrew terms from the academic world, as well as self-presentation; we practiced interviewing, and saw how excited the participants were about the curriculum.”
For Kav Mashve, the graduation of the first Gap Year class is just the beginning. “In fact, we have developed an innovative strategy that has been proven in the field and has helped hundreds of high school graduates during the most sensitive time in their lives, but for us, it was just a pilot for a much broader program,” Danny Gal says. “Our vision is to turn the program annual program based on full boarding that will focus on four levels: 1. Developing the Arab student’s self-confidence and maturity; 2. Encouraging academic studies and excellence; 3. Bridging the cultural gaps between minority and majority populations; and 4. Encouraging the Arab students’ financial and employment independence during their studies”, Said Danny Gal, and added “Our intension is to start the first cohort of the boarding gap year program in October 2020. We are looking for interested supporters to join us in this game-changing journey.”