The Ethiopian National Project (ENP) scholastic assistance program for Ethiopian-Israelis in junior high and high schools (7th through 12th grades) has been implemented since 2004/5 as an after-school program. Its goal is to improve the scholastic achievements of these students and reduce the gaps between them and the other students –with particular emphasis on matriculation exams – by providing scholastic, emotional and social support. The program pays special attention to the unique needs of the Ethiopian-Israeli students; it also incorporates joint activities for them and non-Ethiopian students. The ENP is a partnership between the Jewish Federations of North America, the Government of Israel, representatives of Ethiopian Jewish Community Organizations, the Jewish Agency for Israel, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in Israel and Keren Hayesod.
The report is part of a comprehensive evaluation study that has been conducted since 2006, and continues to examine the impact of the program on the participants’ achievements. The report provides data on their achievements in 2012/13 and on implementation and contribution of the socio-emotional support program in 2014/15.
Matriculation results : The study examined the impact of the program on the students’ matriculation results throughout the years of implementation. In general, the findings are positive and indicate a considerable impact on the percentage of students eligible for matriculation certificates and certificates that meet university admission criteria, and on reducing gaps between the participants and the non-Ethiopian students.
Implementation of the socio-emotional support program : The students participate in recreational or enrichment activities outside of the school and receive support and guidance from the program staff in personal/group meetings or in workshops. Most of the schools also emphasize activities to strengthen Ethiopian-Israeli culture and heritage, and parental relationships. The study examined the contributions as perceived by the program implementers, school staff, and students. The students noted many benefits of the program: contributions to personal empowerment and development, conceptualizing the future, increasing motivation, having someone attentive to their needs, and strengthening their relationship with their parents. Several challenges were identified: the need for more structured activity and a more clearly defined budget; the need for additional professional emotional support and activity to strengthen learning skills and the work with the parents; improved training for the social coordinators; and enhanced cooperation with other programs in the community.
The program still faces considerable challenges, including difficulties with the English language and increasing the percentage of students eligible for matriculation certificates that meet university criteria. Further improvements in the socio-emotional support should further advance the participants’ achievements and personal wellbeing.
The study was commissioned and funded by the ENP and its findings are serving as the basis of ongoing work to improve the program and extend its dissemination.