Leading educators, business leaders and elected officials gathered at a virtual conference Wednesday to discuss issues that concern today’s youth and influence their lives.
The conference, “Education in a Changing Reality,” was sponsored by Ma’agalim, a national educational nonprofit organization that empowers 11th- and 12th-grade at-risk youth from Israel’s geographical and social peripheries and helps them undergo a process of personal growth.
The conference focused on several perennially important topics which have assumed even greater importance over the past year, including the impact that socioeconomic background has as a predictor of future success, how the easing of regulations for drug use affects teens, and whether a matriculation certificate is necessary for all students.
President Reuven Rivlin opened the conference, saying: “We will need to work very hard for many years to bridge this missing year of education and heal the gaps and damage that has been done to our resilience.”
Rivlin praised Ma’agalim as an organization that recognizes the importance of bridging gaps, provides resources for all Israeli youth, helps them complete their high school education and embark on meaningful army service.
Interviews with leading personalities – including Miriam Peretz, Education Minister Yoav Gallant, businessman Rami Levy, former education ministers Gideon Sa’ar and Rabbi Shai Piron, MK Yifat Shasha-Biton and Yamina head Naftali Bennett – were screened at the conference.
In addition, Ted Talk speeches were delivered by former justice minister Ayelet Shaked and former Education Ministry director-general Michal Cohen, now CEO of the Rashi Foundation.
Retorno CEO Rabbi Eitan Eckstein, Mechrim lhaim (“Addicted to Life”) CEO Tzur Raphael and Ma’agalim teens participated in a panel focusing on the impact of the legalization of drug use on youth.
Assaf Weiss, Ma’agalim CEO, said: “This conference has been a great success because, for the first time, instead of talking about the youth, we are talking to them. Instead of dealing with topics that seem important to us, we are dealing with what interests them. Instead of trying to adapt them to our education, we adapt education to their reality. This creates changes and influences youth.
“I hope that the issues discussed as well as the conclusions that came from the conference will help us all move forward, evolve and transform the formal and informal educational system.”