Parents in Negev Town Build, Administrate School on Their Own

At Moshav Sde Tzvi, parents decided to take action and educate the children themselves.

Every parent wants to give his or her child the best education possible, but in most cases it seems that is not available. In light of problems in the education system, sometimes getting the most important educational resource - teachers with vision and initiative - is a matter of chance. At Moshav Sde Tzvi in the Negev, on the other hand, the parents decided to take action and put the task of educating their children into the hands of people whom they could count on - themselves.

A new private school is currently being established in their community featuring a unique educational model in which Dad will teach math and Mom will check the children's homework. Thirty-two students from pre-school age to 5th grade will study at the school, which will be called "Merhav", an open expanse or space in Hebrew. They will be taught by the parents, in addition to four professionally trained teachers.

The parents didn't leave the physical facilities to others, either. With the approach of the beginning of the school year in another two weeks, they are hard at work with the help of their children, painting and plastering. One of the parents, who is an electrician, is in charge of installing the electrical outlets in the building. Other parent is in charge of maintaining the financial records. A mother of one of the students will serve as the school cook.

"There is no one who cares more about our children than we, their parents, do," one father said. "We therefore decided to build the most suitable school for our children where the people who love them most in the world will provide their education," he explained yesterday.

According to the school's principal, Dafna Granot-Degani, the idea to create the school began to take shape among the parents after looking for an educational setting that met their expectations. "As a result of a lack of satisfaction over the existing situation, and especially as a result of the crowded classrooms, the parents decided to make a change," she explained. "Our intention is to provide an alternative that will give the child the ability to find the self-expression he needs, and to enable him to choose which subject he wants to study and in which class."

The school, which will open on September 1, will emphasize study of ecology and the environment. The children will be involved in instruction and enrichment activities designed especially by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel. "Our school represents a third approach: It is not an open school and it is not a regular school. We combine the two," says Granot-Degani.

Avner Mori, who heads the Merhavim Regional Council, called the establishment of the school a welcome initiative. "The Merhavim Regional Council initiates and encourages projects that promote the environment in a wide range of fields, including eco-tourism, environmental studies and protection of nature in our region," he said. He called his council "a green council in every respect, and as part of that policy we welcome the residents' initiative and hope the young students will be the leading generation in protecting nature and the environment."