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Thanks Karen for your suggestion. Will be interested to see how many others also share the same thoughts.
1. Changing the physical model
2. An online curriculum for many children not in the school catchment area
3. Reallocate funds now leaving for overseas
4. Increasing the birth-rate
1. Replacing the current school model for senior students
Traditional Jewish instruction by parents was done for thousands of years. Now we have expensive buildings, small classrooms, expensive teachers and facilities. This model could be redundant in the future, particularly for senior school studies and should be reconsidered in light of the technology available. A visit to the new RMIT library in Swanston Street in Melbourne shows floors of a completely online library with no books, rather desks where each student is working on their own laptop and can access books and discuss with other students and tutors online.
I envisage university-style lecture halls rather than small classrooms for twenty or so students, designed for hundreds of secondary students with one lecturer, whiteboards and videos with a set curriculum that can be repeated. Turning the current model on its head to save costs is imperative and should be considered when designing the new campus in Kooyong Road, as should use of space by building upwards. At present each teacher in every school is “babysitting” small classes, when in many cases online lecturing in many subjects is a feasible alternative. Note that the education department in Israel was aware of the discrepancy in the levels of education between the centre of the country and the periphery. One solution that they have begun is to beam lessons online from the best teachers to the whole of the country enabling standards to rise in the periphery which has traditionally been disadvantaged. A consolidation of secondary schools can take online subject learning into classes in all schools, or even immediately to save teachers’ salaries. These lessons can be saved and repeated every year. Practically there are concerns about the input into students who are struggling. After-school tutorials with teachers can be made available when this happens to identify students who need direction, whilst socialisation can occur in the playgrounds and during sporting activities.
2. An Online Curriculum
This generation of children are all computer literate. Note that many families with school-age children have already moved outside the catchment area of our existing Jewish schools. We now have families in Patterson Lakes, The Dandenongs, Suth Oakleigh, outer and regional areas of Australia. There is an online curriculum that has been trialled in the US now being prepared for Australia by Dina Liberow of Hamerkaz Shelanu. This can address and possibly replace UJEB who currently cannot reach all of the schools where our Jewish children study.
3. Reallocate funds now leaving for overseas
The “Code of Jewish Law” – The Shulchan Aruch advises a donor that “the poor of his family precede the poor of his city, and the poor of his city take precedence over the poor of another city.” There are worthy causes everywhere. However each community must educate its children in preference to sending money overseas. That money is needed here urgently.
4. Our dismal birth-rate – will we change the rules to become family-friendly?
We should all follow the example of the school that encourages families to have children and educate them by allowing a family fee rate. As we assimilate and take on the values of the host society we ape the local birth-rate which is now under 2 children per family. The end-game shown by the statistical projections will be a collapse of the jewels of our community, our schools leaving only the orthodox sector as most families are limiting their size. Birth control in our community is commonly called: School Fees. Let us change this.
It is not every man for himself. We are obliged to care for not only our widows and the elderly, but also for the community’s children. There is enough money in this community to give that extra right here. It will be a shame if this discussion drags on for another two years. Children need to be included now.
Leonie Ben-Simon MBA
0425 748 665
Thanks for your comments. These points raise some valid and interesting discussion topics. Please ensure to fill out our survey.
Alan and working group, many thanks for opening the discussion and taking an organised, collaborative and open minded approach to a multi-faceted challenge
Thanks Avi for your comment – it is greatly appreciated.
Concerned past parent and future grandparent wanting my children to be to able to afford to provide their children with a Jewish Education and seeing that outcome becoming very difficult. to achieve.Have thought for many years that our Jewish population cannot afford to sustain 9 Jewish Days.
Thanks Rodney we hope to work together to solve this issue.
Thank you for this initiative from a young family with four young children currently attending a Jewish day school with uncertainty for how long for due to exorbitant fees.
Thanks Shari, we really have families like yourselves at the core of our project and hope for a resolution.
2. It appears to me that the education is towards generating income/and occupation or university entry, not about continuity, which is at the crux of Jewish education and enrolments , financials aside.
3. Accordingly, secular can be combined and mornings be devoted to religious & continuity issues, Torah learning , language Yiddish, Hebrew as part of translation fo Hebrew texts, prayer and Chassidic insight.
4. Consider also part-time attendances by those not in the “Jewish day school system”, whether to the issues raised in 3. above i.e. continuity and Jewish education, which keeps our demographics focussed on continuity and also permits enrolment in secular specialist classes, and attract or which is likely to attract the brightest students from outside the system and others to maintain contact with the Jewish student body, in addition to UJEB’s contribution to ensure continuity and Jewish education outside of the Jewish Day school system.