The Ethiopian National Project (ENP) in Israel: The SPACE Scholastic Assistance Program – 2018-19 Matriculation – and the Bridge to America Pilot, 2020-21


The School Performance and Community Empowerment (SPACE) Program by the Ethiopian National Project (ENP) has been offered since 2005 to Ethiopian-Israeli students in junior-high and high schools. Since the 2016-17 schoolyear, it has been offered to other students as well. The program is designed to improve students’ matriculation scores through scholastic assistance and socio emotional support. In the 2018-19 schoolyear, 870 12th graders participated, representing 22% of Ethiopian-Israeli 12th graders in Israel. The SPACE Program has also initiated a pilot called Bridge to America: I Have a Dream, for improving spoken English skills among 40 of its students.


Examine the achievements of the Ethiopian- and non-Ethiopian-Israeli 12th-grade students participating in the SPACE program in 2018-19 as reflected in their matriculation exam achievements, and assess the impact of the program on the achievements of the Ethiopian-Israeli 12th-grade program participants. An additional objective was to learn about the implementation of the Bridge to America pilot and its contributions as perceived by the classroom teachers and educational instructors.


The evaluation was based on an analysis of data from the matriculation results files that appear in the Ministry of Education’s virtual research room, for the period July-September 2021. The impact of the program on the scholastic achievements of Ethiopian-Israeli participants was examined by comparing the achievements of participating and non-participating student similar in their personal and school characteristics, using the nearest neighbor analysis method, as well as comparing the standardized MEITZAV (Growth and Effectiveness Measures (GEMS)) scores of students tested in eighth grade. In addition, we used telephone interviews (June-August 2021) to collect qualitative information from four teachers participating in Bridge to America and from two educational instructors in the schools where this pilot is implemented. The interviews were analyzed based on content categories and according to the research questions. Finally, in order to gain deeper insights, we held conversations with program managers in the ENP main office to learn about the program early on, as well as while formulating our findings.

Main Findings

As in previous years, the findings for 2018-19 indicate a high level of scholastic achievements among program participants. For example, the program had a marked positive impact on the percentage of students who achieved a full matriculation certificate. The percentage of Ethiopian-Israeli program participants eligible for a matriculation certificate was higher than among total students in the Hebrew education system. This achievement is particularly due to the high ratio of girls entitled to a full matriculation certificate. The gap in eligibility for a high-quality matriculation certificate that meets university enrollment prerequisites, and in the rate of students taking English and mathematics examinations at a high level (4-5 study units), has narrowed over the years but has not completely disappeared.

 The impact of the program in 2018-19 is also evident in the percentage of students eligible for a full matriculation certificate. This effect is most evident among the female participants, among Ethiopian-Israeli students, and among students whose 8th-grade MEITZAV scores were in the medium range. In 2018-19, no impact was found on the percentage of those entitled to a high-quality certificate.

The teachers participating in Bridge to America and the educational instructors in the communities where the program is active expressed high satisfaction with the program. They feel the program makes a significant contribution to the participating students, both in improving their English conversation skills and in socio emotional aspects. The interviewees further suggest the need for clearer structuring of the annual curriculum required of the teachers – in terms of goals and success indicators – as well as for including the teachers in the structuring processes and their rationale. The teachers have also expressed the need for peer learning among the teaching staff for the purpose of mutual assistance and enrichment.

Summary and Recommendations

The achievements of program participants are high. Most graduated high school entitled to a full matriculation certificate, and about half graduated with one that meets university enrollment prerequisites. The percentage of those entitled to a full certificate from among the Ethiopian-Israeli participants is higher than among the total Hebrew education system population. These achievements are particularly impressive considering the weaker scholastic and personal background of program participants compared to the general Jewish population. Given the differential impact of the program on student groups, it is necessary to identify the source of the gaps and provide a tailored solution for each group. In addition, to strengthen the program’s impact to ensure the attainment of high-quality certificates enabling university enrollment, additional ways to support the students must be found to increase the rate of those taking English matriculation exams at the highest level.

Teachers appear to be satisfied with the Bridge to America Program, believing its contribution is important. They also consider it important to promote activities that will help them optimize their work, such as stating clear objectives, deeper acquaintance with the program contents and goals, and reliance on peer learning to enrich lesson programs.