Formally established in 1998, Mahapach-Taghir was founded by a group of students in Jerusalem who were influenced by the student campaigns against rising tuition prices, which resulted in the longest student strike to take place in Israeli history. This particular group of students thought that the energy and power of passionate students should be utilized for the greater good and to bring about social change rather than addressing only issues that impacted them directly. They set out to volunteer in the marginalized neighborhood of Kattamonim, in Jerusalem, where they consulted community members and realized the need for after-school educational and social programming for children in marginalized neighborhoods.
The learning center they started for the children became a hub for community activism as parents gradually became involved in their children’s educational experience. Through this involvement, the students were constantly confronted by the lack of resources and municipal neglect faced by residents and helped start a process of communal empowerment. This process led to the establishment of the Learning Community model.
The Learning Community, which became the heart of each and every Mahapach–Taghir community, offers children and youth curricular and social tutoring; it also encourages the involvement of adult residents in the pedagogical process and thus empowers the entire community. This model was developed following the principles of Critical Pedagogy and was adjusted to conditions in Israel by experts in the field of education. Currently Mahapach-Taghir works in 7 Communities, serving over 600 children and families and facilitating the work and training of over 150 university students nation wide.
Through its work Mahapach-Taghir promotes an alternative discourse that involves gaining familiarity with other’s narratives and needs, nurturing a positive self-identity and encouraging inter-communal solidarity and partnership based on shared human rights values.