A $2 million Pesach Gift for Educational Excellence in Israel


31 March 2010 A $2 million Pesach Gift for Educational Excellence in Israel World ORT has received a $2 million Lead Gift from Seymour Schulich, entrepreneur and philanthropist from Toronto, Canada, for the launch of the Schulich Canada Smart Classroom Initiative. This initiative will bring a new dimension to teaching, generating class interaction with educational software, websites, and other resources. Images displayed on the classroom projector can be directed to students’ individual laptops, and students can carry out work on their own laptop throughout the lesson. These interactive whiteboards promote collaborative learning and interactivity which benefit teachers and thousands of students alike. Interactive whiteboard teacher training in Hurfeish School The initiative, which will be part of World ORT’s programmatic arm in Israel, Kadima Mada, will provide 411 Smart Classrooms in northern Israel. This will include equipment, teacher training programs, development of learning materials, upgrades and maintenance. The Schulich Canada Smart Classroom Initiative will follow the World ORT Smart Classroom pilot project, launched in April 2008. A favourable independent evaluation of the pilot programme by the Henrietta Szold Institute – The National Institute for Research in the Behavioural Science, based in Jerusalem, promises a significant impact on the educational system. The evaluation noted the overwhelmingly positive effect of the new technology, which now, thanks to Mr. Schulich and other World ORT donors, will be able to reach 73 new schools over three years. Initially, World ORT brought interactive classrooms to a small number of schools in Israel, building upon knowledge and experience gained internationally. Following its remarkable success, World ORT, in full cooperation with the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and the Galilee, the Ministry of Education and local municipalities, will be able to reach more than 40,000 students through the Schulich Canada Smart Classroom Initiative. ‘I am extremely grateful to Seymour Schulich for this outstanding donation,’ said Robert Singer, Director General & CEO of World ORT. ‘It means a great deal that the leading donation for this initiative has come from a person of his calibre. Today, education is the best investment in the future for the Jewish people and for the future of the State of Israel. Mr. Schulich has identified this excellent opportunity and, in the process, has individually created countless opportunities for countless Israeli students. As Jews around the world are currently celebrating Pesach, the holiday of freedom, his gift is greatly symbolic.’ The introduction of the Schulich Canada Smart Classroom Initiative in Israel represents a major step forward for an educational system that has fallen behind after several years of lack of investment caused by economic difficulties. All of the schools selected for this project have been identified by the Israeli Ministry of Education and the Ministry for the Development of the Galilee and the Negev, as schools suffering in areas of economic and social distress. The Minister for Development of the Galilee and Negev and Vice Prime Minister Sylvan Shalom, said that the new technology would improve the learning capabilities for children in northern Israel. This technology will ‘inevitably lead to a reduction in the social gaps that now exist between the northern and central regions of the country,’ Minister Shalom said. This will ‘bring about an educational and social revolution.’ Mr. Schulich’s $2 million Lead Gift was partnered through UJA Federation of Greater Toronto. ‘The 411 Israeli classrooms that will be part of this exciting initiative now join a remarkable family of schools across Canada connected with the Schulich brand in educational excellence,’ said UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, President & CEO Ted Sokolsky.Mr. Shulich’s gift will be matched with an additional $9.75 million from World ORT, Ministry of Negev and Galilee, Ministry of Education, local authorities, and ORT donors worldwide.’This represents a major breakthrough in the recognition of the important work that ORT does throughout the world’, says Lindy Meshwork, Executive Director of ORT Toronto. ‘This is a significant celebration for ORT Canada.’ The long term benefits for the children who will be a part of the Schulich Canada Smart Classrooms initiative are immense. ‘Using the ‘smart classrooms’ enhances the interaction between students, teachers, learning materials and even the subject content,’ said Kadima Mada Pedagogical Manager Dr. Osnat Dagan. ‘The use of computerised technologies in the classroom and, later, at home, encourages pupil’s interest; use of a voting kit, for example, involves them in classroom discussion and decision-making processes and, of course, helps them to learn how to make decisions.’ A Schulich Innovation Leader, existing experienced members of the teaching staff, will be appointed to each of the schools. Their task will be to liaise with World ORT on all issues relating to the implementation of the program. These leaders will share their collective experiences and coordinate seminars. The emphasis of the initiative will be on developing innovative study materials for permanent use in the Interactive Classroom so that more students can enjoy the new technology offered to them and fulfil their academic potentials. The program will be implemented under full supervision of World ORT through its operational arm in Israel, Kadima Mada, and in close collaboration with the Ministry of Education.Each Smart Classroom will be equipped with an interactive whiteboard connect to the teacher’s computer and an LCD projector, a laser printer, teaching software and wireless network. The Schulich Canada Smart Classroom Initiative schools will be provided with laptop computers which connect to the wireless network linking students’ computers to the teacher’s workstation and whiteboard. The Smart Classrooms will also have the ability to access World ORT’s videoconferencing network which will provide virtual links to schools in Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Italy, Argentina, Mexico, Uruguay, France, and elsewhere. In addition to the standard lap tops teachers will also have a tablet PC, which is a hand-held computer about the size of an A4 sheet of paper, so that they can walk around the room interacting with students individually. A ‘voting kit’ allows teachers to create spontaneous multiple choice tests during class to provide insight into how well their students are following the subject and what specific topics need extra time and focus.’This will bring schools in northern Israel an innovative 21st century technology and we are very grateful to Mr. Schulich,’ said Mr. Singer. The Schulich Canada Smart Classroom Initiative will provide the infrastructure for the foundation of teaching and learning through state-of-the-art equipment for all courses and subjects. The value of the systems that will be installed goes beyond the equipment itself, and is part of a fully coordinated methodology to increase teaching standards as well as student motivation and levels of achievement. What is World ORT World ORT is the world’s largest Jewish education and vocational training non-government organisation and has benefited more than 3 million people – Jewish and non-Jewish – in 100 countries since its foundation in 1880.