S. Africa to meet social challenges through Israel's example

Feuerstein model will help integrate Zulus and others into work force.

zulus224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
(photo credit: AP [file])
An Israeli-developed educational program focusing on each individual's cultural make-up and learning needs will be adopted by the South African government in an attempt to address its employment and socio-economic challenges, The Jerusalem Post has learned. South African government representatives arrived here this week to examine the unique learning model of Israel Prize winner Professor Reuven Feuerstein, an educational psychologist and world renowned expert on care of special needs children and adults. The Feuerstein model, developed in the 1960s and now providing millions of children worldwide with an alternative approach to IQ evaluation, is studied at the world's leading universities and has been adopted by more than 70 training centers in 35 countries. The South African delegation, which consists of heads of the government-funded Services SETA (Sector Education & Training Authority), the CEO of the Disabled Peoples Organization, the National Chairperson of the Military Veterans Association, and directors of South Africa's largest human resource companies, will spend the next week observing programs at the Jerusalem-based International Center for the Enhancement of Learning Potential (ICELP), also known as the Feuerstein Institute, as well as touring other facilities countrywide. On Wednesday, the Feuerstein Institute and the South African government will formalize its partnership at a special ceremony to be held in the Knesset in the presence of Labor, Trade and Industry Minister Eli Yishai. 'This is among our biggest projects ever,' Anat Cagan, Director of Instrumental Enrichment Programs at the Feuerstein Institute, told the Post Thursday. "Our program will be used to hopefully reduce some of the extreme poverty in South Africa." In recent years the South African government has focused on reducing unemployment percentages and absorbing millions of ethnic Zulus and others into the national work force. Cagan said that a team from the ICELP had already been working with the South African government to train teachers in Feuerstein's methods in three urban centers - Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town - for more than a year. Based on that work, she continued, "They [the SA government] decided to expand the scope of our activities there." Feuerstein's methods focus on the Mediated Learning Experience theory and the theory of Structural Cognitive Modifiability that human intelligence is acquired and therefore may be significantly altered. The goal is to help people from varied cultures to develop into independent and contributing members of society, explained Cagan. In Israel, Feuerstein's work has been used to assist with the integration and education of new immigrants, as well as special needs children. Perhaps the center's most celebrated project to date is AMIR, which has assisted the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in evaluating and successfully drafting hundreds of young Ethiopian immigrants. The IDF Behavioral Sciences Department is also in the process of implementing the center's evaluation methods. Outside of Israel, 5,000 teachers and professionals have already received their diplomas in Feuerstein's method and, among its international projects, the ICELP assists the US Education Ministry and the National Urban Alliance for Effective Education to rehabilitate African-American convicts and promote education in the African-American population.