Ethiopian Literacy Programs

Ethiopian Literacy Photo 3


Need: The southwestern Jerusalem neighborhoods of Gonenim, Kiryat Menachem, Ir Ganim and Givat Massuah consist primarily of families within a low socioeconomic demographic. These neighborhoods are also home to the largest number of Ethiopian immigrants in Jerusalem. Ethiopian immigrant children struggle with language difficulties, cultural obstacles and disruptions to the traditional family fabric. All these adjustment issues increase the sense of alienation of these children from their integrated peers, oftentimes leading to the phenomena of dropping out, engagement in risky behavior, and crime.

 Response: Literacy is the foundation of success, and mastery of reading and writing is perhaps the greatest indicator for future achievement in school and life. Educational and social intervention frameworks at an early age strengthen disadvantaged families and communities, enabling children to grow, develop and enjoy the opportunities of a healthy childhood as well as embark upon the path towards a successful adulthood. In fulfillment of this vision, the Jerusalem Foundation works with  2 Literacy Centers in neighborhoods with significant Ethiopian immigrant populations for implementation of a specialized Hebrew Literacy Program. Both the Yad Rachel Therapeutic and Educational Center in Gonenim, and the Rachel Karwan Child Development Center in Kiryat Menachem offer a range of social, developmental and educational services to local children. They operate as professional addresses for providing the critical supplemental and remedial teaching needed by disadvantaged children from infancy to age 18. Both Centers provide a multi-disciplinary core of services to foster the physical, psychological, emotional and intellectual development of children dealing with issues such as: learning disabilities, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), motor delay, poor reading and writing skills, and language acquisition difficulties.

The Centers are open 5 days a week to offer the following:

•             Speech/language therapy and occupational therapy (OT)

•             Social/professional training for care providers

•             Culturally sensitive mentoring for parents

•             Remedial teaching

•             Academic tutoring

•             English and Math courses

•             First grade readiness

•             Literacy development

Populations Served: Approximately 600 disadvantaged, mainly Ethiopian immigrant children with literacy and language difficulties residing in southern Jerusalem.

Impact: As a result of the Jerusalem Foundation’s ongoing support, both Literacy Centers made significant improvements in the following areas: 

•             Shortened waiting times in all therapeutic departments.

•             Increased professional training and continuing education for staff.

•             Expansion of mentoring programs for parents.

•             Servicing additional Ethiopian immigrant children and toddlers.

•             Strengthening relationships with the local communities.

•             Therapeutic care for those suffering emotional challenges, physiotherapy.

The utilization of these holistic approaches aims to provide early and effective developmental intervention - enabling every child in the Ethiopian immigrant community to actualize their potential at home, in school, and within society as a whole.

Partners: Jerusalem Education Administration, Jerusalem Municipality, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ganim Community Council, Gonenim Community Council.