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המכללה האקדמית בית ברל > English > About Us > News > Newsletter > Spring 2021 Newsletter > Non-Formal Education Around the World: Adapting to Local Contexts

Non-Formal Education Around the World: Adapting to Local Contexts

Beit Berl teamed up with the World Zionist Organization to bring together Israeli and Diaspora youth leaders from around the world.

This year's "Hands-on Experience Week" – an important part of the Education curriculum – was held in partnership with the World Zionist Organization's Department of Pioneering Youth and Future Generations, which oversees Zionist youth movements around the world.

"Our students haven't met face to face in almost a year. We wanted them to have a group experience that would emphasize the power of non-formal education," explains Dr. Lauren Erdreich, head of the Non-Formal Education Department at Beit Berl. The first half of the day-long event entailed Zoom meetings for each class and then for the entire department. In the afternoon, the students were divided into groups and each group met with three or four program directors and coordinators of Zionist youth movements from many different countries, including South Africa, Belgium, the U.K., South America, Mexico and the U.S.

The youth movement leaders compared the programming they organize for the Jewish children in their country, focusing on their community's special characteristics and specific needs. They also discussed the challenges of the past year and how they coped with Covid-19 within their youth movements. The event highlighted both similarities and differences between different communities and the importance of adapting non-formal education to local contexts.

"Our students learned that there isn't one set way of doing things. They learned how non-formal education must cater to specific communities," notes Dr. Erdreich, adding that, "This is our students' first encounter with the international aspect of non-formal education. It highlighted the importance of the Israel-Diaspora relationship." Indeed, many of the Beit Berl students were amazed at the major part that Israel plays in the overseas youth movements' programming.

In Israel, non-formal education plays a prominent role in educating and shaping children and youth, and its impact is often on a par with that of the formal school system.

Beit Berl's renowned Non-Formal Education Department trains many of the professionals who run Israel's non-formal education sector, which includes youth movements, community centers, after-school enrichment programs, municipal programs, NGOs, boarding schools and senior citizen centers throughout the country.

Students in the Non-Formal Education track earn a B.Ed. degree as well as a Community Educator certificate from the Ministry of Education. During their studies, they learn to develop and manage educational programs and initiatives in a wide range of cultural, educational, social and political settings. 

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