At the beginning of September, the Society for Advancement of Education (SAE) alongside Givat Haviva, Menashe Regional Council, and a group of local Arab entrepreneurs and educators, opened the Sindiana Youth Village: the Arab Youth Village for Young Leadership, the first of its kind for Arab society in Israel. Youth villages are educational models tailored to assist peripheral and disadvantaged communities. This youth village includes both a junior high and high school as well as a residential campus for students.
This year, the school will enroll 180 students in three classes in the seventh grade and two in the ninth and tenth grades and is expected to grow each year. At present, there are 25 students enrolled in the boarding school. In addition to promoting educational excellence, the school emphasizes informal education, social activity and involvement, and identity and culture. According to SAE, Sindiana is “part of a comprehensive plan for leadership development for Arab youth” that first started with the Jafra Leadership program for high school graduates in Sakhnin.
Sindiana is located in the "Triangle Region" - an area in central Israel home to 400,000 residents of whom over 240,000 are Arab citizens. Arab public schools in this area suffer from poor infrastructure and low levels of academic achievement, as is the case more generally within the Arab public school stream in Israel: 78% of Arab youth reach 12th grade (compared with 94% of Jewish students), only 46% are eligible for a matriculation certificate ("Bagrut") (71% of Jewish students are eligible) and of this percentage only 32% obtain a diploma that complies with minimal university requirements (versus 59% of Jewish students). In addition, infrastructure for informal education programs in this area and Arab society in general is underdeveloped and there is a severe lack of social and educational extra-curricular activities for youth.
As a result, Arab students in Israel oftentimes complete high school lacking sufficient academic achievements and skills that are necessary for future academic studies and contribution to society.
SAE, together with a group of Arab leaders and educators from the Triangle, adopted the Sindiana model to offer both high level academic enrichment and excellence programs, as well as after-school activities and empowerment and leadership developement activities, for Arab students in the region. While there are 60 youth villages ith approximately 18,000 students in Israel, this is the first time such a model was developed together with Arab experts and is being implemented in Arab society.
*** A coalition of North American Jewish organizations, foundations, private philanthropists and international affiliates