Parents and Children Together (PACT) addresses the educational disparity within the Ethiopian-Israeli community by helping Ethiopian Jewish preschoolers improve cognitive and social skills.
May 1, 2006
Lod Israel Contact
The UJFC | PACT Story
In 2006, the UJFC adopted the “PACT” Early Childhood Program in Lod for the city’s 400 youngest Ethiopian immigrant children, aged 0 to six years old, and their parents.
What is PACT?
PACT addresses the educational disparity within the Ethiopian-Israeli community by reducing the academic and social gaps between Ethiopian-Israeli children and their veteran Israeli peers, helping them to enter first grade on an equal footing. Adopting a holistic approach, PACT provides comprehensive educational and community services for Ethiopian- Israeli preschoolers, while at the same time offering targeted training and support to their parents, the community, local educators and service providers. These efforts are made possible through donations by groups like UJFC.
Recognizing parents as central to their child's development, PACT works to strengthen them in their parental role and help ensure a smoother integration for themselves and their families. Today, PACT is working in 14 cities across Israel reaching some 7000 Ethiopian-Israeli children.
Lod is an Israeli city with large numbers of low-income families. Approximately 400 Ethiopian-Israel pre-school children in Lod are receiving the extra support they need to enter first grade on par with their Israeli peers - linguistically, cognitively, emotionally, and socially.
In addition, 150 Ethiopian-Israeli parents actively participate in a range of PACT programs, which strengthens their ability to nurture and advance their children's healthy development.
Getting Shlomo the Help He Needs
An example of the PACT Program in Action
Shlomo's parents were born and raised in small Amharic. Eight years after fulfilling their dream of immigrating to Israel, cultural and language barriers continue to impede their full integration into Israeli life.
In Shlomo's last year of kindergarten, while his peers were beginning to make their first steps towards reading, Shlomo remained unable to identify letters or numbers. Shlomo's teacher invited his parents to discuss the problem and told them that their child was most likely in need of specialized assistance, starting with a professional evaluation. Shlomo's mother was unwilling to allow Shlomo to undergo an evaluation and an argument developed between the teacher and Shlomo's mother.
The teacher turned to Tikva, one of PACT's Ethiopian-Israeli educational liaisons in Lod, for help. Tikva grasped the situation instantly. Like many Ethiopian-Israeli parents, Shlomo's mother was hesitant to subject her son to tests that she feared might brand her child as lacking. Tikva met with the parents and spoke with them in Amharic. She explained the exact nature of the evaluation and the ways in which Shlomo could benefit from treatment. Tikva promised to accompany the family through the entire process. Through Tikva, Shlomo's parents were able to make their concerns heard and to fully understand the need.
Literacy Enrichment in Kindergartens
At the beginning of the year each child is tested in order to pinpoint their strengths and weaknesses. The children are then divided into small groups and a work plan is devised. Each group includes at least one child with learning difficulties who is not Eithiopian-Israeli.
Twice a week, an enrichment specialist comes to the kindergarten and works with each of the groups following the plan. This plan is updated monthly, ensuring that the work of the enrichment specialist is constantly in step with the needs of the children. At the end of the year, each of the children is evaluated once again, allowing PACT to track progress over the course of the year.
The children look forward to "playing" with the enrichment specialists, and often form a close bond with her in the context of the small groups. They gain self-confidence and discover that they too can learn to count, to name objects, and to take steps on the path toward independence.