School year to open with recovery from Gaza war

School year to open with recovery from Gaza war

Education Ministry suggests giving students a chance to discuss and unwind from summer conflict

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative: Israeli schoolchildren, August 27, 2013. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90/File)
Illustrative: Israeli schoolchildren, August 27, 2013. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90/File)

With summer vacation fast drawing to a close, the Education Ministry on Monday issued guidelines aimed at helping pupils deal with a summer that included, among other activities, dashing for cover from rocket attacks and sitting in bomb shelters.

The first two weeks of the school year are to include discussion groups about Operation Protective Edge, with a focus on providing an emotional outlet for pupils and easing them back into the learning routine.

The ministry circulated a syllabus to schools across the country laying out the aims for the first days after the pupils return on September 1.

Teachers were advised to invite pupils to talk about their personal experiences during summer vacation and engage in other activities, including preparing a special scrapbook album for Operation Protective Edge. Pupils will be asked to bring in photos and images from the military campaign, which, although it hasn’t ended, appears to be winding down, and then paste them into albums along with their thoughts.

Discussions are also to explore the meaning of freedom of speech in a democratic society, and how to allow open dialogue while refraining from “incitement.”

Schools will moreover try to offer pupils some relaxation from the tense period of the previous few weeks with cultural events and music, talent shows, and youth movement gatherings.

Kindergartens are also expected to help youngsters deal with this year’s disrupted vacation months. The Education Ministry told kindergartens to look out for the individual needs of each child.

In the south of the country, which bore the brunt of the rocket and mortar shell attacks on Israel, schools will put particular focus on relaxing activities to give pupils a smooth return to studies. Teachers were told to put special emphasis on any feelings of helplessness or trauma caused by leaving home and being away from parents for extended periods.

Many families in the south left their homes, or sent their children away, to avoid the persistent rocket attacks during the conflict, which began on July 8. Bringing a halt to rocket fire from Gaza was one Israel’s goals during Operation Protective Edge, along with destroying a network of tunnels, dug by Hamas under the border from Gaza and into Israel, that were used to infiltrate into the country and carry out attacks.

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