About the Yeholot Association and the Tafnit Programs

A. Who we are

The scholastic performance of students in the Israeli school system, as measured by international and other standardized tests, shows gaps that begin in elementary school and grow wider as the children reach junior high and high school.

The Tafnit Program, now under the Yeholot Association was launched in 2001 with the aim of reducing educational gaps by giving schools the tools for helping pupils fulfill their potential. Chosen among 60 leading initiatives with the potential to change the face of tomorrow at the Israeli Presidential Conference 2008 under the auspices of President Shimon Peres, Tafnit is one of the flagship programs of the Rashi Foundation.

Since its inception a decade ago, the program has been implemented successfully in several models, addressing the needs of tens of thousands of children and youth in elementary, junior and high schools and post high school frameworks across Israel. Its activity has expanded over this period thanks to partnerships with the Ministry of Education, local authorities and philanthropies.

 

B. The Need: Matriculation Rates and School Dropout in Israel

The education system in Israel aims to lead every child to succeed in school, regardless of his or her social or economic background, and to promote social mobility and access to higher education as a key for their future integration in society as productive adults. This is also essential for building solidarity and cohesiveness in Israel's multi-cultural society.

The matriculation diploma attained at the end of high school, which is a prerequisite for academic studies, was granted in 2013 only to 53.4% of all 17-year olds; matriculation rates were even lower among children from the periphery compared with their peers in well-established localities. Moreover, the matriculation rate was 59.8% in the Jewish population but only 45.7% among Arab youth and 32.3% among the Bedouin population of the Negev.

These figures indicate that despite persisting efforts, school performance in Israel is still strongly linked to socioeconomic status and ethnic background.

School dropout is another acute problem, with 16.9% of all 17-year olds not attending 12th grade in 2013. According to a Brookdale Institute study (2003), 11%-19% of the pupils in 6th-10th grade are "hidden dropouts" at high risk of actual dropout, and are characterized by truancy, poor scholastic achievements, alienation, behavior problems etc.

C. Yeholot Association- Tafnit Program: Principles and Basic Assumptions

Yeholot and the Tafnit Program work in schools in cooperation with the Ministry of Education based on the belief that every child is able to succeed in school, and that the school and the education system are responsible for making this potential a reality.
We believe that it is possible to reduce learning gaps and lead pupils towards success by universal standards at any grade level, even those who have fallen far behind or are on the verge of dropping out of school.
Our activity is based on the method of accelerated reduction of learning gaps that was developed by Tafnit (Yeholot) and applied successfully in working with thousands of students of all ages. These principles are:
  • Everyone is able! - with very few exceptions, every child can succeed in school and reach remarkable achievements
  • Chain of success - instead of failure after failure, the child must experience a chain of success so as to build self-confidence and restore the teachers' and parents' belief in his ability
  • Accelerated learning - large gaps in knowledge can be reduced through accelerated learning techniques that break the classroom routine, with highly challenging, measurable goals
  • Empowerment of teachers – by succeeding with the weakest pupils, the school teachers gain a sense of capability and motivation and acquire tools and knowledge to assist all their pupils
  • Results orientation – the study program must be driven by achieving good results, and led by teachers who can generate the will and motivation to succeed
  • Standards – the pupils must not merely improve their performance, but achieve high grades according to universal standards
  • Individual attention – since children learn at different paces, there must be a differential investment of time and resources through small-group study and the employment of teaching assistants
  • Significant others – a coalition of school teachers, program staff and parents must be formed to encourage and direct the child towards scholastic success
  • Addressing the emotional needs at the root of under-achievement
  • Personal monitoring and external supervision of the situation of every child.

D. Main Programs

 The Yeholot "Last Hurdle" Program

Implemented in schools with a low rate of matriculation success, the Last Hurdle program targets 10th-12th grade pupils who failed, or are expected by their school to fail the matriculation exam in one particular ("obstacle") subject, which remains their "last hurdle" to a matriculation certificate.

The program employs Tafnit’s principles of accelerated learning over one semester for each subject. It takes place mainly after school hours and in intensive "learning marathons" outside the school. With few exceptions, the teachers are members of the school staff who receive specialized training beforehand.

The program is implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and the municipal education departments in participating localities.

 

The Yeholot "Start" Program for Dropout Prevention and Matriculation

In an effort to increase matriculation rates and reduce hidden and actual dropout, the program, using the method of accelerated reduction of learning gaps, takes the unconventional approach of focusing on the lowest-achieving pupils.

Operating in high schools in the periphery, the program accepts youth at risk who are on the verge of dropping out, starting with a group of 30-50 pupils with an average mark under 54; more than half have at least 7 failures across all subjects. The program works with this group for more than three years, from the end of 9th grade through 12th grade, and aims to extend the support until they reach academic studies.

The pupils in the program join a separate class, taught by regular school teachers who are trained and guided by Tafnit instructors. Studies take place during school hours, as well as after school and during part of the vacations. By changing the pace and structure of study, providing individual attention and assistance, building pupils' motivation and dealing with the emotional roots of underachievement, the cycle of failure is broken and the path to success is paved. Studying towards matriculation is considered as both an end in itself and as a means to prevent school dropout.

The program makes a deep impact on the entire school when the lowest achievers are led to success by universal standards, causing a fundamental change in the self-perception of these pupils and in the way they are perceived by their classmates, parents and teachers.

The program is implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and the municipal education departments in participating localities.

 

E. Yeholot Association- A Subsidiary Association of Rashi Foundation

Yeholot Association (Tafnit Program) was blessed, throughout the years, with the generous support of Rashi Foundation, which enabled the Program to grow, create partnerships and reach thousands students  The Rashi Foundation is the latest chapter of the extraordinary Leven family legacy that began in Paris in the 1840's. Gustave Leven (1912-2008), a French Jew, one of the founders of 'Source Perrier", and grandson of Narcisse Leven -- founder of Alliance Israיlite Universelle and Mikve Israel -- established the Rashi Foundation in 1984 by merging and reorganizing family charity funds.  Over the past 25 years, Rashi has worked vigorously to realize the vision of a stable and prosperous Israel that draws its strength from a society in which each and every citizen can realize his or her innate potential. Rashi operates to reduce educational, social and economic gaps, by creating high quality infrastructure and opportunities for self advancement in the geographic and social periphery in Israel.  The origins of the Foundation and the remarkable vision and generosity of the Leven family motivate Rashi and Yeholot's work today.

Gustave Leven, Z"L (1912-2008)
Founder, Rashi Foundation