The Task of Residential Child Care :Cultural and Social Integration

This article is made up of excerpts from a speech by Dr. Yehiel Shilo, Director of the Administration for Rural Education & Youth Aliyah in the Ministry of Education, delivered to welcome FICE’s Federal Council to Israel in October 2007.

“I’m glad and proud to speak to you in my capacity as the leader of the Administration, inside the Ministry of Education, which supervises all bodies, foundations and organisations operating residential school programmes. Altogether there are 40,000 adolescents (12-18) being educated in almost 300 settings, representing almost 10% of the secondary high school class-group in Israel.

“We truly believe that for an immigrant society, such as we are, these are essential educational programmes enabling us to meet the immense challenge of social and cultural integration. Although all youth have a common denominator being from the Jewish faith, they differ strongly on all other cultural aspects. Let me give you examples from the last 20 years.

“Since 1983, 140,00 people came from Ethiopia – the first time Israeli society had to cope with integrating “black Jews”. This is a complex challenge, not yet achieved but we have extraordinary success stories among the graduates of our youth villages.

Since 1990, more then a million of people came from the former Soviet Union, increasing the total population of the state in 20%.

“These are extremely complex social processes that will take at least 10 more years to integrate properly. However, the tradition of integrating immigrant youth in extra-familial care models, mainly the youth village, had been developed in a unique educational movement named Youth Aliyah.

“The educational principles of Youth Aliyah were traced at its establishment in Berlin in 1934 with the aim of saving Jewish youth from Germany by sending them to extra-familial programmes in kibbutzim and youth villages in Israel. Since 1996 this movement has been part of the Ministry of Education but it continues to operate under the same educational principles, in every period applying its programmes to the needs of youth populations who are in need of help in their cultural-social integration.”

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