Early childhood professionals in Bedouin Arab society in the Negev region of southern Israel face unique challenges in the fields of education, care, and remote learning. These issues require discussion and consultation, but geographical isolation makes it difficult to have an ongoing and productive dialogue.
With the onset of the coronavirus crisis and social distancing, discourse among peers has dwindled even further. Informal conversations in school hallways are gone, eroding the sense of belonging and the ability to solve problems together.
Thanks to the Internet, educators are overcoming COVID restrictions by holding online discussions on topics of mutual concern. Participants can share professional knowledge in a spontaneous and accessible way, bypassing the school hierarchy by putting principals, counselors, kindergarten teachers, assistants, etc. on the same footing. The meeting place is a Facebook group called Topola, which is Arabic for “child.”
When lockdowns are eased, the group plans to continue their discussions offline, i.e., in person. This forum is especially useful during the restrictive period of the pandemic but will also be an effective tool after things return to normal.
Topola, which is based on the Education Ministry’s core curriculum for kindergartens, helps educators deal with the day-to-day challenges of virtual learning. It is a project of the Ministry of Education Southern District, Pisgah Tel Sheva, and Joint-Ashalim.