Lenore Marwil Jewish Film Festival (2011)
Amid the crisis surrounding the education of Aborginal children in Australia, there is a ray of hope. The unlikely source: Israeli teachers. Forgotten Children chronicles a team of Israeli teachers as they travel to the Australian outback to introduce a new method for teaching at-risk kids.
When professor Marcia Langton, head of Indigenous Studies at Melbourne University, heard about Hebrew University’s innovative program of accelerated learning targeting disadvantaged students, she immediately saw its potential for combating the low attendance rates and limited educational successes challenging remote indigenous communities in Australia. So began the YALP Project (Yachad Accelerated Learning Project) and its extraordinary impact on Australia’s “forgotten children.”
Based on a "whole community" educational approach, Hebrew University developed a method of teaching that accelerates the learning of language skills. These techniques were used with large immigrant populations, including Ethiopians with no previous knowledge of English or Hebrew, and proved extremely successful in the absorption of new populations into Israel. The method pairs a child and teacher for focused 10 minute one-on-one sessions that include an emphasis on enhancing the student’s self confidence and self esteem. These techniques are now recognized worldwide as a valuable method of educating students in underserved or at-risk communities. Teams of Israeli teachers have established teaching programs in China, Vietnam, Italy and Mexico, tailoring each program to the location’s specific needs.
In Australia, professor Langton saw a parallel between the challenges faced by the Israelis and those of the indigenous populations in remote regions, many of whom were unable to speak or write English. In 2004 she saw the method applied first hand, to Bedouin children in Israel. Upon her return, Langton established YALP, a three-year educational intervention program aimed at raising the scholastic achievements of indigenous students in remote and rural areas in Australia. The first Israeli team arrived in 2005. Over the next three years, the teachers traveled in pairs—via small airplanes—to remote schools in The Kimberley, Alice Springs and Shepparton to train indigenous teachers.
Forgotten Children tells the story of these remarkable teachers and their even more remarkable students. Viewers are introduced to Hope, George and Winfred, indigeous children who thrive in the program, as well as Judy, Liat, Elite, Ken and Merle, Israeli and indigenous teachers committed to making a substantive differerence in stuggling communities.
FROM FORGOTTEN CHILDREN'S PARTICIPANTS
“Everybody has given up on aboriginal students. Teachers have given up on aboriginal students, education departments have given up…So what can you do about it? How can we make sure that some fair proportion of the three hundred thousand aboriginal youngsters get an education….I was in Israel for three weeks and did an intensive study tour of educational projects, schools and programs…You can transform your whole world if you raise the next generation to be well educated…This is truly a matter of survival for aboriginal people and for aboriginal culture.”
- Marcia Langton, Head of Indigenous Studies, University of Melbourne
“Literacy will be the key to what they can do in the future…We want to make sure that they become more self aware and autonomous learners, learn to trust their own judgment, trust their abilities…I think that in many of the schools we find people that have given up. We come and we say, ‘Look you can be successful, we will do it together.’”
- Elite Olshtain, Hebrew University
“I am shocked to realize that there are children who can never know the pleasure of reading a good book. I come from a cultural background where learning and books are so important. In my house when I was growing up, these were the most important things. I feel that the Forgotten Children expresses my heartfelt concerns, and shows that there can be light at the end of the tunnel.”
- Monique Schwarz, director Forgotten Children
Produced and Directed by Monique Schwarz
Co-Produced by Elaine Berkowitz
Written by Monique Schwarz and Elaine Berkowitz
Participants: Sharon Bamblett, Wilfred Stewart, Valerie Atkinson, George Atkinson, Merle Miller, Aunty Deb Parsons, Judy Yaron, Professor Elite Olshtain, Liat Ventura, Jonathan Ventura, David C. Muller, Professor Marcia Langton, Dr. Zane Ma Rhea, Peter John Mc Connell, Ken Langford-Smith, Fred Murray
Home Use DVD:
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Classroom/Library Use DVD: $95
Does not include Public Performance Rights. More Information
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ALSO DIRECTED BY MONIQUE SCHWARZ
Australia, 2009, 55 minutes, color
Directed by Monique Schwarz
Public Exhibition formats: Beta, DVD