לוגו מרחבים (1)

General Background

Ultra-Orthodox girls with complicated home environments, who have unaddressed emotional or learning difficulties, are at risk of dropping out of school. Addressing problems early can prevent dropout and remove these girls from the “at risk” category.

Target Population

Ultra-Orthodox girls in grades 9-12, who are studying in haredi schools and are at risk of dropping out.

Vision and goals

Merchavim seeks to empower high school girls who are at risk of dropping out of school; take actions to ensure support from the family, school and community; and enable the teens to successfully complete their studies and integrate into the community in normative ways.

  • Merchavim helps to change the attitude of school staff and promotes being proactive, mobilizing, inclusivity and therapeutic approaches toward at-risk girls. The program provides tools and guidance for the staff, to help them in turn strengthen the girls’ capacities. Merchavim also works with parents to encourage their support of their daughters.
  • At-risk girls are identified toward the end of ninth grade, using a method of “mapping” each class that was developed for this program. The mapping process involves examining various aspects of the student’s functioning and her family background. The results are translated into weighted scores that indicate the level of risk and the extent to which the student could benefit from the program.
  • A treatment plan is built for each girl, which can include a variety of interventions available through Merchavim: diagnosis, talk therapy, parent training, workshops on social skills, academic assistance and after-school enrichment.
  • At the end of each school year, the guidance counselor for each class re-scores the students, and builds new programs for each one based on the results.
  • Additionally, the high school’s staff receives professional training, so they will have tools to help the girls overcome their challenges.

 

So far, around 500 girls, from 5 high schools, have participated. 86% stayed in school and took the bagrut matriculation exams or the Bais Yaakov system’s chutz exams (which are recognized by the Ministry of Education). Dropout from Merchavim stands at less than 1%, and there has been a significant increase in the students’ academic successes.

In light of the program’s success, the Ministry of Education and the Haredi school system have agreed to operate Merchavim in 15 high schools this coming year, with the possibility of expanding to 20 schools in the future.

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