Informal Education as a Means of Reducing Gaps in East Jerusalem
Publication Year: 2020
Maliha Zugair, Elisheva Milikowsky
The five-year plan for the reduction of socio-economic gaps and promotion of economic development in East Jerusalem was approved by Government Decision No. 3790 in May 2018. This important, historic decision provides a budget of NIS 2.1 billion, to be allocated over the course of five years across a range of areas, including welfare, education, employment, and infrastructures. The decision grants informal education a particularly significant position. It marks an unprecedented move substantively and budgetarily, given that this is the first government decision to invest broadly in the development of informal education in East Jerusalem.
When properly adapted and implemented, informal education can effect deep, meaningful change in the lives of children and youths. It can provide a place where all children receive special attention and learn how to express themselves as part of a social system; a place that cultivates a children’s society based on mutual respect, listening, and acceptance; a place that is experienced as a significant developmental stage in the lives of children and youths, empowering them and strengthening the entire community.
Recent decades have seen a growing recognition of the importance of informal education and of its potential to facilitate social change and the reduction of social gaps. Institutions and organizations across Israel and the world have researched the issue, and international bodies have called for further development of and investment in the field given its vast inherent potential to promote social mobility, facilitate social integration, and reduce gaps.
Before implementation of the five-year plan began, informal education had almost no presence in East Jerusalem’s official education systems. Although community councils held some activities, and non-profit or private organizations operated various types of programs, generally speaking most of the population was not exposed to informal educational programs. Decision No. 3790, which led to the formulation and execution of the five-year plan to reduce socio-economic gaps in East Jerusalem, has fostered substantive change and made it possible to redirect efforts in this field. The results in the field are already evident: there has been a dramatic increase in the range of programs, from which approximately 25,000 children and youths now benefit.
Realizing the aims of Decision No. 3790 – namely, the reduction of socio-economic gaps in East Jerusalem – requires more than allocating resources and establishing quantitative indicators of participation. It is also necessary to examine the ways in which informal education can help reduce gaps, and to identify the elements of informal education programs necessary for success. Addressing these questions is essential in order to clarify and highlight the importance of informal education, formulate a strategy, objectives, and action plans that are suited to these avenues of change, and establish indicators to assess whether the plans are achieving their aims.