Education Ministry to bring back ‘Summer Vacation School’ this year

Despite promises to expand program to third and fourth grades, three-week camp will run according to last year’s limited format.

April 21, 2015 04:42
2 minute read.

School children in class. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

The Education Ministry has announced that its Summer Vacation School program, a three-week, school-based camp for students completing kindergarten through the second grade, will run this summer in July according to the same format as last year, despite promises to expand it to the third and fourth grades.

The camp, held Sundays through Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., is costing the government, in partnership with local authorities, approximately NIS 130 million.

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Koby Stainberg, a member of the National Parents’ Association, said the program would help meet the needs of working families in terms of the educational nature of the activities and the financial savings involved. He said he still hoped the incoming education minister would push to expand the program to include third- and fourthgrade students, as promised last year.

As for August, when there are fewer formal activities and private camp programs, Stainberg said the parents’ group was looking into the idea of integrating informal educational activities, for example by using youth movements and extra-curricular clubs to fill the void.

Naomi Goldberg, a hi-tech working mother, said Summer Vacation School was very beneficial to her family.

“As a family with two fulltime working parents without local family to help out, the summer holidays are exhausting and financially difficult,” she explained. “Our son attended the subsidized [Summer Vacation School program] last year in kita aleph [first grade], and it saved us thousands of shekels. We hope to send him again this year, and it is a real shame this program won’t be available to kids in older grades.”

During August, Goldberg said she will be sending her children to private camps at a cost of NIS 1,000 a week per child, and then will take off a week and a half from her job.

The Education Ministry is also implementing an initiative called “A Different Summer,” to begin toward the end of the current school year. In it, teachers will talk to students about utilizing summer vacation for rest and personal growth, and discuss safety hazards and how to avoid them.

The program is geared toward all ages, from kindergarten through high school, and will place an emphasis on personal responsibility and independence. Students will be encouraged to take part in local activities throughout the summer, including volunteer opportunities; “white nights,” run for older students by local municipalities; and independent play at sport fields, to be illuminated in the evenings throughout the summer vacation.

In addition, to assist parents in the search for summer activities, the ministry has developed an app, available on both Google Play and the Apple App Store, that will show events and discounts available during the summer.

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