Peace of mind for high school parents, learners

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Na'ale Elite Academy deals with the challenging gap between what a parent thinks is best for their teens and hat their teen had in mind. And this is all the more so for South African Jewish mothers who are known for wanting to hold on… tightly.
by ANT KATZ | Nov 16, 2016

Teens always want more independence while their parents want to give them the best possible education to improve their chances for a successful future and in the safest and most nurturing possible environment.

One option is to allow high-schoolers to spend their last two or three years of school in Israel at absolutely no cost, courtesy of the Jewish Agency for Israel (Jafi).

Naale 16 main picIn August, another five new recruits (pictured right with their travel host, Livnat Katz,) from South Africa set out to get the education, and adventure, of their lives - two or three years of high school in Israel, in English at first. And when Jewish Report spoke to parents and kids after two weeks - they were all loving it.

These children joined over 10 000 alumni of Jafi's Na'ale Elite Academy where they enjoy up to three years of free education and board - they even get their uniforms, first and last flights home, a monthly allowance and more.

While it is almost the norm in North America for teenagers to attend colleges away from home and in other countries to study abroad and gain new insights into other cultures, learn a foreign language and life-lessons, South African Jewish parents have historically not always considered this option because of the costs associated.

It sounds daunting... but it really is not 

It may sound a bit daunting at first for a teen to study abroad, but they discover topics they are passionate about or interested in exploring further and it prompts incredible self-growth and personality transformation, say the experts.

The consensus of local parents and teens who are alumni of Na’ale Academy, is that it has been an enormously positive game-changer for them. It helps high school learners develop greater self-esteem and broaden their knowledge of the world.

Learners are exposed to a new language, something scientists now know increases the size of the brain as new brain circuits are developed to enable language skills. It also gives teens a powerful opportunity for personal development, helps them change their perspective and broaden their understanding of the world and of themselves.

EdSuppAntHighSchoolAnd, given the cost of private schooling in South Africa, the financial benefit is huge.

LEFT: SA Na’ale graduate Morgan Cohen says Na’ale was a great opportunity. “There is a lot of freedom here but you have to follow the rules as well,” she says

Na’ale Elite Academy places teens in one of 25 schools participating in the programme and these include special tracks for religious and secular as well as high-level science and art institutions.

Na’ale also includes extracurricular activities like music, sports etc and many trips to learn more about the history of Israel.

Fifteen-year-old Sivan Kark of Johannesburg started in August. She is among the 50 per cent of Na’ale learners who are from English-speaking countries and her dormitory mate is British. They get on well.

She lives in a wired world and calls home at least twice a day, says her mother, Wendy. “Sivan is glad she went; she has connected with so many friends - Italian, American, even a Columbian girl.”


Sivan, says Wendy, “loves the independence of the school uniform” - pupils are provided with school-branded, white T-shirts (and hoodies to wear over them in winter) and they can wear anything from jeans to skirts, earrings and jewellery.

On her second weekend in Israel Sivan enjoyed her first real taste of Israel when she went on a day of exploration with some new friends and discovered their local makolet (cafe) and the most traditional of Israeli morning treats: shoko. She had heard of the ubiquitous chocolate milk drink in a sachet in South Africa.

Finding the right place for teens to expand into their best self is the greatest gift for them and for the entire family.

Simmy and Yaakova Pollock, parents of two teens who studied at Na’ale, saw incredible changes in their teens. They say that when teens are in a good place, the whole family benefits.

“Our kids talk and communicate with us more now than they ever did when they were here - and we were always a close family,” says Yaakova. “It is certainly a life-changing experience - a change for the better.”

Further information and reading

For more information on Na’ale contact Livnat Katz at the Israel Centre on 011 645-2560/74 or mail her at [email protected]



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