Distance-learning program allows study in South

Although Gaza conflict has led to suspension of classes in South, World ORT offers children there alternative way to study.

Students (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Although Operation Pillar of Defense has led southern municipalities to suspend classes at area schools, the World ORT organization is offering children there an alternative way to study.
The organization’s Israeli branch, World ORT Kadima Mada, which conducts many educational projects in the periphery, launched a distance- learning program on Sunday to allow pupils to continue studying under rocket fire.
Avi Ganon, the branch’s executive director, explained that the organization was working with four schools in the South and had provided over 100 personal computers to middle and high school students there.
In addition, the organization, in coordination with the Education Ministry, uses the online service eTeacher to provide instructors with “Internet space” to conduct classes.
“The kids and teachers are given a link through which they can access a lesson which takes place via chat, webcam and voice,” Ganon told The Jerusalem Post.
“For now, since Sunday, it’s working great, at least for one school,” he added, explaining that “in the other schools, a lot of children have left the region, so it’s not as big, but those who are still in the region use it.”
The same learning system was previously implemented for hospitalized children in the Barzilai and Soroka medical centers, in Ashkelon and Beersheba respectively.
Ganon mentioned that World ORT was also planning a two-day educational trip to the North for children affected by the recent escalation.
Sinaya Aharonov, a fifth-grade teacher in Kiryat Malachi, said children in her school were used to the school closing because of rockets.
“It’s not the first time – unfortunately we’re organized for this,” she said.
“We interact via the Internet – I give them homework and tasks to complete,” she continued. “We also have a class blog, which functions in times of emergency and helps us communicate.”
Aharonov added that she also tried to keep in touch with her students by calling them and their parents regularly. If the situation continues to escalate, she and her colleagues have been instructed to organize classrooms in student’s homes.
“The kids are used to it now, they understand it. But of course, a lot of them also develop fears, so we try to refer them to counselors who can help them with that,” she said.
Kiryat Malachi resident Debbie Levy is a mother of three: Ori, 11, Gal, 16, and Shlomi, who is serving in the IDF. Her two youngest sons have not been to school since Thursday, when the Home Front Command ordered the institutions to stay closed.
“The teachers are making all possible efforts, especially using the computers to teach,” she said, adding, “They call and write to ask about the kids and how they feel.”
But she also explained that despite her attempts to keep their usual routine going, her boys were distracted by the situation.
“Every time there is an alarm, they have to leave the computer to go to the shelter. They’re never working for more than five or 10 minutes,” she told the Post.
Of course, she added, “we adults are also too distracted to think of telling them to do homework, and follow what they do.”
She noted that the kids were also interested in watching the news. “They want to sit in front of the television, see the Iron Dome interceptions and hear the booms. So it’s hard for them to focus.”