Early Childhood Education

The Early Childhood Education Department’s vision are the fostering of Arab families raising happy, creative, aware, critical and independent children who are proud of their cultural heritage and possess the ability to cope with changing realities.

What we do:

We design and implement holistic programming for children, families, professionals and para-professionals in the Arab Bedouin community of the Negev.

How we do what we do:

 

 

Parents as Partners – Reaching children from birth to age 3
Health Promotion for Mothers and Infants – Equality from Birth
Educational Activity Centers – Accessibility for the children of the unrecognized villages
The Resource and Training Center – Cultural Competence and Excellence
Health Projects Contribute to Major Reductions in Infant Mortality
Parents as Partners – Reaching children from birth to age 3

Parents as Partners is a holistic, community-based early childhood intervention program designed to meet the needs of Arab Bedouin mothers and their children from birth to age three. Parents as Partners combines the communities rich cultural heritage with state-of-the art early childhood theory and practice.

Program Elements

  • Training Arab Bedouin mothers as paraprofessional early childhood counselors to work with mothers and children from their own communities
  • Establishing educational daycare centers  – House of the Mother and Child (Beit El-Umm Wal-Tifil) operated by the Arab Bedouin mothers who undergo 800 hours of training and certification as early childhood caregivers.

Program Impact and Highlights

  • Hundreds of children and their  mothers benefit from Parents as Partners
  • Mothers gain knowledge about child nutrition, health promotion, accident prevention, family relations, developmental stimulation, behavior management and the importance of play and literacy
  • Government support, widening scope – The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor Early Childhood Division recognizes Parents as Partners as a unique program meeting the needs of the Arab Bedouin community of the Negev
Health Promotion for Mothers and Infants – Equality from Birth

The Israel Ministry of Health, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and NISPED – AJEEC work together with women’s groups, the Arab-Bedouin community and local religious leaders (Imams) to confront the major issues affecting infant mortality and morbidity. Specifically, the initiative addresses the tremendous gaps in health between the Bedouin and Jewish communities of the Negev including an infant mortality rate three times the national average.

Program Elements

  • A collaborative project of NISPED-AJEEC, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Community Centers in Kseife, Rahat and Hura
  • Women’s health promotion groups
  • The imam (Muslim clergy) group
  • Development of a community internet site
  • Writing and publication of training kits (for use by the facilitators)
Educational Activity Centers – Accessibility for the children of the unrecognized villages

The Educational Activity Centers in the unrecognized Arab Bedouin villages of Hashem Zane and Qassar el Sar provide children a safe place to learn and play.

Program Elements

  • A well-equipped and safe playground (unheard of in the unrecognized Arab Bedouin villages of the Negev).
  • Shaded area for indoor play and enrichment activities
  • The Centers operate during the week after school, on weekends and during school breaks
  • A specially trained part-time paid staff and volunteer high school students from the area are on-site to coordinate activities and support the children
  • During the academic year, college student volunteers from AJEEC’s Volunteer Center (The Tent) provide educational enrichment, tutoring and mentoring
The Resource and Training Center – Cultural Competence and Excellence

The Resource and Training Center develops the human and material resources essential for the ongoing provision of high quality, culturally relevant early childhood educational programs for the Arab Bedouin community, promoting active parent and community involvement.

Program Elements

  • Development of early educational materials reflecting the language and culture of Arab Bedouin children in the Negev
  • Training of professional and paraprofessional Arab Bedouin early childhood educators
  • Guiding the women working in the Community Education Activity Centers
  • Grandma’s stories – documenting Arab Bedouin women’s oral history as an early education tool
  • Family literacy
Health Projects Contribute to Major Reductions in Infant Mortality

The Israel Ministry of Health, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and NISPED – AJEEC work together with women’s groups, the Arab-Bedouin community and local religious leaders (Imams) to confront the major issues affecting infant mortality and morbidity.

 

The Women and Children’s Health Promotion Initiative is a collaborative project of NISPED-AJEEC, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Community Centers in Kseife, Rahat and Hura. The initiative addresses the tremendous gaps in health between the Bedouin and Jewish communities of the Negev including an infant mortality rate of 8.5 percent (as opposed to 4.7 percent among Jews). Nonetheless, the good news is that in recent years, as a result of such programs, infant mortality in the Arab-Bedouin community has been halved (from 16.8 in 2004).

 

The Community Outreach Program for the Development of Health Promotion Capacities among the Arab Bedouin of the Negev was designed and initiated by NISPED-AJEEC in 2008-9 in cooperation with the Faculty of Health Sciences at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. It is a component of a more comprehensive program for the reduction of the infant mortality rate in the Arab Bedouin population conducted by the Faculty of Health Sciences over the past three years, which has come to an end for lack of further funds. The steering committee of this program was composed of a broad coalition of representatives of the target community, department heads of the Health Sciences faculty, and representatives of the various health funds and government agencies providing health and social welfare services for the community.

 

In 2008-9 AJEEC trained an initial contingent of 18 health promoters from the community, who in turn organized 9 groups of women in 7 Bedouin towns and villages, each of which met for 12 sessions – a total of some 200 direct participants; in addition, some 120 community leaders participated in a workshop dealing with the problems of infant mortality and birth defects, including 40 imams who undertook to deal with the issues involved in their Friday sermons. Furthermore, instructional and training materials were prepared for use in the program and a broad scale public awareness campaign is underway in the local Arabic – language radio.

It should be noted that recognizing the importance of respecting cultural and religious realities, this is the first such project to incorporate the active participation of local Imams (Muslim religious leaders).