AMIT, RECENTLY REFERRED TO AS “THE GOOGLE OF EDUCATION IN ISRAEL,” IS CELEBRATING NINE DECADES OF CONSTANT GROWTH AND BEAUTIFUL RESULTS. THEIR MISSION IS TO EDUCATE AND THEIR VISION IS TO BUILD A STRONGER ISRAEL, A VISION IN WHICH WE CAN ALL HELP.
By Ethan Segal
This year, AMIT is celebrating its 90th anniversary since its founding in 1925, prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, by founder Bessie “Batya” Gotsfeld, z”l. Ninety years later, AMIT has grown to become one of the largest networks of schools in Israel, providing academic excellence to children so that they can lead successful lives and build a stronger Israel by serving as officers in the army, leading scientists in advanced research, and becoming entrepreneurs to fuel a robust economy. AMIT is a non-profit organization and it’s thanks to the support of tens of thousands of individual contributors from the US, Europe, Israel and beyond, that a top education can be offered to children in Israel regardless of their background.
AMIT students come from all socio-economic strata and regions of Israel. Their schools educate top performing students and academically-challenged students as well. Children attend AMIT schools in the middle-upper class center region of Israel, as well as from lower-income peripheral regions. There are Ashkenazim, Sephardim, Ethiopians, Russians, Israeli-born (sabras), secular, Modern Orthodox and Charedi students attending their schools. In short, AMIT schools represent a microcosm of Israeli society.
With the help of generous supporters, AMIT teaches its students to collaborate with each other regardless of differences in backgrounds. If students are too poor to afford basic needs such as breakfast, backpacks or pants, then AMIT discreetly provides these items to them to ensure they retain their dignity without feeling embarrassed. If students are struggling academically, then AMIT teachers conduct remedial study sessions after-hours at schools to ensure that information is understood and retained.
When AMIT teachers and administrators began a research and development program to identify the best pedagogical practice, they experimented with new techniques, such as flipped classrooms. Instead of continuing with 19th century-style teaching methods, where rows of students sit and listen for hours to a teacher lecturing at the front of a classroom, the flipped classroom method has successfully transformed teachers into facilitators of learning. Students watch educational videos at home after school and when they come to their flipped classroom, they discuss the material they learned in groups with their peers as their teacher encourages dialogue about the subject matter.
Another method that AMIT has introduced in its classrooms is based on the Shamayim program in Israel, which utilizes the techniques that Israeli Air Force cadets use to absorb massive amounts of information in short periods of time. AMIT has implemented this approach to help students absorb and retain knowledge about subjects such as math, science, history, and more.
Based on these innovative approaches towards education, Israel’s Minister of Education, MK Naftali Bennett, said that “AMIT is sort of the Google of education” since there is a continual effort at researching, developing and experimenting with innovative teaching methods to help students learn information in ways that are most conducive to them, instead of forcing them to learn within the confines of outdated methods.
This approach has led to the opening of AMIT’s new Gogya Center in Ra’anana which is a formalized program instituted to train all of AMIT’s teachers on how to adopt and implement the various innovative teaching methods which have led to the tremendous success of the AMIT network of schools. The name “Gogya” originates from the word pedagogy, because the purpose of the center is to educate teachers on how to best instruct their students. The long-term goal is to open the center to teachers of all schools in Israel beyond just AMIT teachers, once the new center receives sufficient charitable funding.
The explosive growth of AMIT’s student enrollment and increasing academic success are evidence that the advancement of a nurturing and holistic educational approach at AMIT schools is working. Currently, there are over 30,000 students enrolled at 110 AMIT schools and programs and the Bagrut (matriculation) exam pass rate among AMIT students is 83%, compared to the national average of 64%. With all these achievements, together with an alumni network of over 100,000 graduates placed everywhere in the Israeli labor force, AMIT is building a better and stronger Israel.