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A new French-Israeli school, the first of its kind, will open its gates come next school year. The school, which will be established north of Holon, near Tel Aviv, will feature two programs. One will be conducted in Hebrew, according to the curriculum of the Israeli Education Ministry. The second will be held in French and will prepare students for the French matriculation exams.

Currently, only 100 students have enrolled to the new school. Come September 1, they will populate four classrooms, 8th to 10th grade.

The Hebrew program in the school will emphasize science, French and English, both at 5-point level. It will feature unique subjects such as ecology, as well as French and north-European culture. The annual tuition fee will be NIS 1,600 - the same fees as charged for the Mikveh Yisrael agricultural school, on whose campus the new school will be built.

The French track will have five school days a week, Monday to Friday, from the morning until 5 P.M. The curriculum will include Jewish studies (7 weekly hours) and lessons in Jewish culture and heritage. Annual tuition for foreign nationals attending the program will be $5,000. Students of both programs will attend joint classes such as English, art, ecology, computers and music. They will also be sent on a trip to France and other European countries.

"The French government has expressed a keen interest in the school, and sees it as a chance to improve the image of France in Israel," said one of the parties involved in the project. The cost of the new school is estimated at $800,000, a sum distributed for the most part between Israel and France. Construction on the compound will begin in the following weeks.

In addition to the joint French and Israeli funding, the school was established through the participation of Alliance Israelite Universelle (Kol Yisrael Haverim) and the Rashi Fund.

Michael Ben-Saadon of the Rashi fund explains that the school will be more than a diplomatic gesture on the part of the two countries, and could serve to assist in the absorption of French Jews who choose to immigrate to Israel.

"Adolescent boys from France have a hard time integrating into the Israeli education system. Unlike in Israel, the French curriculum is fairly rigid, and the student doesn't enjoy much choice. This means the students need help and guidance in making scholastic choices," he explains.

"We intend to combine the respective virtues of the two systems: the versatility and flexibility of the Israeli education system, along with the broad scope and disciplined approach characteristic of the French one," he says.