The Downside of E-Learning, and How Eyal Edry, Moshe Edree, and Rafi Edry Are Empowering Israel’s Neglected Youth

By  //  December 13, 2021

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The COVID-19 pandemic has made it mandatory for every industry to prioritize digital transformation. The education sector isn’t an exception. As nationwide lockdowns forced schools, colleges, and universities to shut down, educational institutions quickly responded by adopting online teaching methodologies.

The Rise of Online Learning

Despite the abrupt start, online learning has proved to be beneficial for students and teachers alike. It’s helped teachers stay connected with students to resolve their queries and strengthen their understanding of different subjects.

Also, children can enjoy the flexibility of learning at their pace from any location of their choice. Online learning is supposed to enhance productivity and retention in students.

Many countries, including Israel, have been promoting the online education initiatives undertaken by their governments. But they’ve completely ignored the fact that the very basis of e-learning relies on equal internet access for all.

While children in developed countries and affluent households have access to smartphones, computers, and the internet, the same isn’t true for those who live below the poverty line.

Children in impoverished households lack access to basic resources, such as clothing and school supplies. Attending online classes is only a distant dream for them.

The situation is particularly grim in Israel, where 2 million people are still reeling under the strains of poverty. Nearly a third of the country’s children live below the poverty line, with no access to the e-learning infrastructure.

While the Israeli government earns praise for its educational endeavors, the plight of students in the social and geographical periphery paints a different picture. The Ahinoam Association, headed by Eyal Edry, Moshe Edree, and Rafi Edry, has stepped in as a silver lining for these children and adolescents.

Living (and Learning) in the Fringes

When one thinks of Israel, it brings to mind the images of the country’s fast-growing socioeconomic center. What we fail to realize is that there’s an Israel beyond the hub of commercial activity and tech innovation.

The Israeli periphery is home to millions of children for whom survival is an ongoing battle. A majority of them don’t own smartphones or laptops. Nor do they have high-speed internet at home.

What they do have is the willingness to learn and build a better life. The government’s complete disregard for these students is depriving them of the future they deserve.

In the absence of proper resources, these children are likely to accumulate irreparable learning gaps. Many of them might lose interest in formal education, and consider dropping out to earn a living.

This, in turn, will deprive them of a normal childhood and adolescence. They’ll miss out on opportunities to interact with their peers and develop strong social skills. These children will grow up with the belief that the government failed them. They’ll always question their self-worth, and perceive themselves as misfits in society.

It could turn out to be the biggest threat to Israel’s social resilience.

Refael Edry, Moshe Edree, and Eyal Edry’s Fundraising Initiative

The Ahinoam Association for the Promotion of Equal Opportunities was established in 2018 by Eyal Edry and his brother, Refael and Moshe Edree. The organization has developed various programs for the upliftment of children and at-risk youth living in Israel’s social and geographical periphery.

Having faced financial hardships in their childhood, Eyal Edry, Refael Edry, and Moshe Edree relate to the predicament of these children. So, when the pandemic exposed the growing digital divide between Israel’s center and periphery, they were compelled to take action.

The Edry brothers quickly launched a fundraising campaign through the Ahinoam Association. The initiative urged affluent families, entrepreneurs, and businesses to help children in the periphery continue their education.

The campaign kicked off on a positive note as Moshe Edree and his older brothers successfully provided computers to more than 30,000 children. As of this writing, the initiative has helped thousands of students regain access to education, and achieve a semblance of normalcy in their lives.

The Road Ahead

Despite the success of the fundraising initiative, Eyal Edry remains skeptical about the future of welfare agencies and non-profit organizations in Israel. That’s because pandemic-driven economic slowdowns have affected commercial activity in the country. It translates into reduced donations and funding for social services.

Eyal Edry, Moshe Edree, and Refael Edry reckon that enhancing tax credit for such donations could encourage more people to support non-profit organizations. Also, they believe that the government should delegate the responsibility of implementing social initiatives to such organizations.

The government, welfare agencies, and successful businesses must join hands to support and uplift the Israeli youth for a brighter tomorrow.