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Sunday, 17 October 2010

Program in Israel Pays Single Moms to Go to College

CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION October 17, 2010

By Matthew Kalman

Jerusalem

A college in Israel has been swamped with applications after it advertised a special deal that is aimed specifically at new students who are single moms: free babysitting, free tuition, special study hours, and an annual stipend. As a result, 48 mothers, most of them over 30, will begin studying this semester at Tel Hai Academic College for their bachelor's degrees in human resources, with an optional elective of interdisciplinary studies.

The course work is spread over four years instead of three, and classes are concentrated into a single day so the moms need be away from jobs, homes, and children for only one day each week. Students who volunteer at a community child-care program will provide free babysitting, and an organization that helps underprivileged people, the Rashi Foundation, is covering the tuition and providing each student with a cash grant of about $1,600 per year.

Yona Chen, president of the college, says the program arose from community-outreach projects that involve two-thirds of Tel Hai's 3,200 students.

"Our social workers identified the population of single mothers as a group in the society facing more economic difficulties and challenges in allocating time to study," he says. "It seems to be a great success."

The college is situated in a low-income region near Lebanon that came under extensive rocket fire in the 2006 war with Hezbollah.

In Israel, Mr. Chen notes, salaries for government jobs are tied to level of education, and private employers are more willing to give management roles to college graduates.

"There's a big jump in salary between a high-school graduate and a university graduate," he says.

Inbal Arad, a 37-year-old holistic therapist and the single mother of a 5-year-old girl, says she had not been able to consider pursuing a degree until she saw the Tel Hai advertisements.

"Financially and practically, it's not been possible," she says. "For me it's an opportunity to study and get a B.A., but in a way that actually fits into my life. Otherwise I can't afford it. I can't be a full-time student."

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