A privately sponsored international high school program for 11th and 12th graders charging $35,000 (NIS 124,000) annual tuition is to open next year at the Kfar Hayarok youth village, with school officials promising that Israeli pupils will pay more reasonable fees.
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The Eastern Mediterranean International School is to be run by the EMIS Foundation, headed by Oded Rose, the CEO of Omer-based Flow Industries, which exports drilling and other heavy industrial equipment.
After plans to open the school were announced on Tuesday, sparking heavy criticism, organizers hastened to explain that Israeli students would be asked to pay “the tuition customary in the public school system.” Because it will be a boarding school, however, the tuition and fees could still reach NIS 32,000 annually, depending on the parents’ financial situation.
“I wouldn’t get hung up about the tuition,” insisted Rose. “Everyone who meets the acceptance criteria and who can’t afford it will get either a full or partial scholarship, depending on his parents’ economic situation.”
The school has the Education Ministry’s approval, even though Education Minister Shay Piron has previously expressed vehement objections to private education. Two years ago the ministry launched a well-publicized legal battle against the private Havruta High School for Leadership and Culture, which led to its closure this past summer.
According to the organizers, only 20 percent of the school’s pupils will be Israeli, with the rest coming from other countries, including, it is hoped, from Arab countries. Candidates for acceptance will need a grade average of 85 in 10th grade, and will be put through two days of interviews and testing. Admission requirements also include proven leadership ability, an entrepreneurial bent, and a background of volunteerism. Applicants will have to be articulate and fluent in English, which will be the language of instruction.
Pupils will not take the Israeli matriculation exams but instead tests sponsored by the International Baccalaureate organization, which are given in some 2,000 high schools around the world and are accepted by almost all universities. The course of study in the new school will be project- and research-based rather than the rote learning typical of Israeli schools, “to prepare pupils to succeed in university and in life,” according to the IB website.
The curriculum will include a foreign language, science and humanities courses, as well as electives in economics, philosophy, theater, and music, among others. The school’s organizers say graduates will be able to get into the world’s best universities and in some cases may get exemptions from first-year courses. However, because the school will teach an international curriculum, pupils will not study Bible, for example, nor will they be taught much Jewish or Israeli history.
Teachers in the program will be recruited by the school from the Israeli educational system; they will need to have high-level English and will receive special training.
“We want to make sure that we can create a generation of leaders from throughout the world and from Israel, who will get a different perspective on Israel,” said Rose. “The program will allow pupils from Arab countries to study here as well. These will be the world’s future leaders, and they will study here.”
The association that will run the school has run summer camps at Kfar Hayarok that attracted Muslims and Christians from several Middle Eastern countries, including Morocco, Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt, as well as from the Palestinian Authority. The foundation wants 20 percent of the school’s pupils to be from Arab countries. Pupil recruitment will take place in cooperation with the Foreign Ministry.
The school plans to open next year with 50 11th-graders, after which 100 students will be recruited each year. The school’s operating budget will be NIS 1.5 million during the first year, and it will hold classes in temporary quarters until a campus is built. Ultimately the school will enroll 200 students in the two grades and have a budget of NIS 200 million. Funding will come from the Education Ministry, tuition, and donations.
Dr. Kobi Naveh, the director of the Kfar Hayarok Youth Village, confirmed that an agreement had been signed with the foundation and said the Education Ministry had given the project a green light.
The Education Ministry confirmed the report but had no further comment.