The south region of the Institute of Democratic Education (IDE) – or how a diverse eco-system of groundbreaking educators is created

Current approaches of cooperation over competition and of environmental involvement have found spaces of community and exchange, where barriers are lower and environmental involvement is deeper. People in the area are more open and willing to embrace a variety of educational formats, and their trust allows education entrepreneurs to lead and impact. This is then a fertile soil for our operations in the southern region.

The institute’s principles of dialogue, mutual responsibility, community, activism and participation correspond with local values shared by the southern team and the people and communities with whom they work.

Our southern team is made up of local people who are passionate about their home and the region. It maintains wide spread connections with communities and with people and is deeply dedicated to the development of a local group of educators.

How did it all begin?

Seven years ago, the Kaye College of Education in Be’er Sheva, with the cooperation of the IDE, founded the Shvilim Program – a Bachelor’s degree in environmental and social education. With Dr. Dafna Granit at the helm, and after four years, the program now has 230 students and graduates. The program features highly experienced students, project-based pedagogy, location-based learning, a highly dedicated and creative inter-institute faculty, and of course IED’s principles, which are promoted through activism and influence in the community and in society at large

An ever-growing community of groundbreaking educators

Having established the program as a groundbreaking format, we realized that it alone was not enough to lead changes in the south. We are working in cohort with the Kaye College and the Academic Khan to make it available to a variety of audiences to promote a democratic culture. In the Academic Khan, groups of pre-college education students attend a variety of classes such as: partners in the community, industry and nature preservation, orientation programs and so forth. The Academic Khan programs help teachers in both formal and informal education to promote concepts and enterprises of quality, innovative and meaningful education in the south.

We then went on to establish the Center for Supporting Pedagogical Growth in many southern local authorities from Ashkelon to Mitzpe Ramon, where 14 instructors provide Jewish and Arab teachers, principals, supervisors and pre-school facilities with training, mentoring and professional enrichment. We were joined in this endeavor by Pisga centers (centers for teaching-staff development), the Ministry of Education’s supervision system and of course the schools. Operating in this arena are 14 Arab schools undergoing profound changes, Amitzim (brave) schools with their unique model, and a pilot of experiential learning in southern Early Childhood Education (ECE) programs, offering professional enrichen for ECE teachers and supervisors.

Recently joining this “southern fest” is our young “cousin” Netivim Program, promoting social-environmental leadership among young Bedouins, currently attended by 42 young leaders, with 40 more expected to enroll next year.

This southern ripple effect grows and expands thanks to our many co-dreamers in our educational and social reality.

It is our hope that the values and principles of cooperation, dialogue, mutual responsibility, community, activism and participations will reach as many educators as possible to promote a better society in the Negev and in Israel at large.