Students from Jewish Agency youth village, Neve Midbar - Nitzana celebrate their graduation.
(photo credit: SHAFIK ABU HABAK)
A momentous occasion took place last week, when a class of twenty-two students celebrated their graduation as part of the inaugural class of Neve Midbar - Nitzana, a Jewish Agency youth village and boarding school catering to Bedouin high schoolers from the Negev desert region.
Neve Midbar- Nitzana was opened by The Jewish Agency four years ago as the first youth village of its kind, focusing on educating Arab citizens.
The village was established in a joint initiative and with funding from The Jewish Agency, Ministry of Education – The Administration for Rural Education and Youth Aliyah, Neve Midbar Regional Council and the Atid Educational Network.
Graduates were offered educational programs not available within their Bedouin home-towns, such as courses in robotics and other areas of technology, field trips, volunteer opportunities, summer camp experiences abroad, enrichment programs, leadership development, and internships.
Instruction in the village is conducted primarily in Arabic, but Neve Midbar- Nitzana students also master Hebrew as one of their primary points of entry into Israeli society at-large.
“The youth village gave me life tools that will make thing easier for me in the future,’’ said Majed Daraja, a graduate from the village of Bir Hadaj. “It’s important to me that my family be proud of me.”
More than 200 people attended the first graduation ceremony at The Jewish Agency’s Nitzana educational campus, located near the border with Egypt about an hour’s drive from the city of Beersheva.
The goal of the school is to equip Bedouin youth with the skills and education necessary to succeed in Israeli society in an educational environment which respects Bedouin culture, builds leadership, and cultivates the values of the State of Israel: democracy, equality, civics, and social activism.
“The next generation of the Bedouin community deserves an environment that is inclusive and supportive — one that propels individuals,” said Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog.
“The Neve Midbar-Nitzana youth village is creating the next generation of Bedouin leadership in Israel thanks to a fruitful cooperation with the local Bedouin society. The curricula at Nitzana enables students to get to know all sectors of Israeli society, empower their communities through the tools they acquire at the village, and integrate into Israel’s diverse mosaic.”
The youths get the tools to pursue employment, as well as to effect change in Bedouin society. During their final year of studies, an alumni program was developed to help them prepare for university and enter the job market.
“We’ve made history. At Nitzana, we established the first youth village for students from the Bedouin community,” said Ilana Nolman, Director General of the Administration for Rural Education and Youth Aliyah at the Ministry of Education. This youth village is an example the Ministry of Education’s investments in providing a solution for all sectors with the aim of empowering the next generation to bring about change for the good of all Israeli society.”
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