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Educational Programs Director empowers potential for Social Development for Vulnerable Youngsters

Educational Programs Director empowers potential for Social Development for Vulnerable Youngsters and their Parents

With the goal to provide youngsters with opportunities to develop their potential, to attain social mobility and to fully participate within greater society; Dr Ayelet Giladi headed up the Research Institute for Innovation in Education for a period of 7 years; first established in 1968 by the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), USA, at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

“Addressing the educational problems, challenges and needs of children and youth as a National Director of the Birth to University Unit: Early Childhood Programs, we were able to provide professional training courses which empowered women to become aides and caregivers for early childhood centres and through home visiting programs in family homes for a two year duration,” said consulting sociologist Dr Ayelet Giladi.

Over a period of 7 years Dr Giladi and her team compiled 10 different workshops and training courses which were put in place to promote women from local communities and kindergarten teachers to guide educational and social advancement with funding from The Hadassah foundation and NCJW, the Israel Ministry of Education’s Preschool Education Department, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services Division.

The programs, operated by professional and paraprofessional staff and overseen by public steering committees, were then implemented in Israeli kindergarten and pre schools in cooperation with local community groups, such as representatives of local authorities, Education Ministry inspectors, education and community workers, family health clinics, social services departments, the Psychological Counselling Service, community centres, and Early Childhood Centres.

Between 2013 and 2017, four courses for the enrichment of women were initiated for the Haredi sector, the Bedouin sector, women of Ethiopian origin, and Beit Ya’akov schools. The work involved group guidance educational programs for parents and their children up to age 7, where courses were compiled to address the needs in these communities and were adapted to the characteristics of the target group.
“We looked to reducing educational and social gaps among vulnerable population sectors such as Bedouin women who were at educational risk. Very much a part of this was reinforcing parents’ involvement in their children’s education; and integrating parents into the community,” explains Dr Giladi.

“Most women viewed the course as a turning point in their lives. We received incredibly warm feedback that had respondents reporting that every subject discussed, every conversation, every participant and lecturer provided a range of never-ending learning, which filled them with an inner strength and which assisted them in the perception of a mother’s role within the family and how they could further enable themselves.

“As much as 70% of the feedback interviews expressed a profound sense of progress in self-empowerment and an increase in the women’s self-worth and capability. Sixty percent of the women reported that the course increased their awareness to their needs, abilities and desires as women with many, for the first time, being able to express a sense of pride and acknowledgment of a women’s uniqueness and the gap experienced between women and men.

“As much as 30% of the women stated that they gained skills that will help them enter the workforce either to work or to look for a job while 80% of the women expressed a sense of belonging and contribution to their community and to education. It was fulfilling to hear how the women expressed how they now believed they had the knowledge and the skills to help change their community and that they could be an agent for change within their communities.”

The unit’s educational program for young children and their families were implemented using the programs’ learning materials, with parents working with their children at home and in group workshops as active partners who initiate, suggest, and choose activities and discussion topics.
“Parents are coached in a way that is tailored to each family’s specific needs and cultural background. What we wanted to focus on was the reinforcement of parent-child interaction, developing the child’s emotional and social readiness, and knowledge-expanding activities supporting children’s cognitive development and school readiness.

“We were able to target specific difficulties which arose for example, within the educational program put in place for refugee families from Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya, where mothers were experiencing difficulties with hyper-active children and where communication was difficult or even traumatic at times.

“For example, we had one mother and child start the program with daily tantrums, misunderstandings and a lot of frustration on both sides. The first meeting was very difficult for the child and they had to leave in the middle of the session. The facilitators came up with a wonderful solution for a more intensive connecting method which proved a great success and immediately both the child and the mother opened up and began to enjoy the meetings as they progressed. In her last meeting with us she shared: “I learned to listen. In the beginning I didn’t listen to my child. Once I understood how to listen and talk to my child I found courage to open myself up and I found our connection to bond with each other.”
Dr Giladi says the educational programs are the fruit of her research and development and are updated on the basis of formative evaluation accompanying them from their inception.

The activities of the Early Childhood Unit received international recognition at the Saltzburg seminar in December 2016 when Dr. Giladi was able to present the programs and educational development plans for the future.

Currently the kindergarten teachers programs continue to take place in Israel with the coaching materials updated from time to time in light of needs of a particular school or community and to adapt them to reflect leading approaches in the field of early childhood education in Israel’s multicultural society and others around the world.


The Research Institute for Innovation in Education was established in 1968 by the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), USA at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The Institute carries out research and creates innovative educational programs serving socioeconomically at-risk segments of the Israeli population. The Institute’s accumulation of knowledge and expertise facilitates its professional contribution to public policy-making in the field of education. Since the Institute was founded, research has been conducted and projects implemented in Early Childhood Education, Development and Learning in Teacher Training, School and Curriculum for Minorities, School Integration and Educational Recovery and Cross-Cultural Research among others. The Institute has ongoing ties with scholars and research institutes in Israel and abroad. The findings of its research projects are published as articles in scientific journals, as books and as online programs.
In 2007 Dr Giladi went into private educational sociology consulting when she founded Voice of the Child Association which implements prevention of sexual abuse programs in schools and teacher training facilities around the world.

To learn more about Dr Giladi’s global programs in early childhood educational development which look to preventing abuse among young children please visit www.global.voiceofchild.co.il