High school students start university course


22 March 2007 World ORT presents Challenge for gifted students Thirteen talented Israeli teenagers have started studying for computer science degrees while still at high school, thanks to World ORTs help and there are plans to extend the study programme to another 57 teenagers over the next 12 months. World ORT has arranged for the students, who come from low-socio-economic backgrounds in the northern towns of Nesher, Kiryat Atta and Tirat Ha-Carmel, to take part in the Etgar (Challenge) Programme at the University of Haifa. This initiative is a once in a lifetime opportunity for these students, said Dr Gaby Meyassed, Director of World ORT Operations in Israel. We are setting them on course to become the cutting edge leaders of tomorrow in the field of computer sciences. The students, who attend schools that World ORT works with near Haifa, are chosen for the rigorous, four-year course according to ability and motivation. They start the programme in the 10th grade, attending classes at the universitys Department of Computer Sciences two afternoons a week. The fourth and final year of the programme is conducted full-time and can be undertaken before or after military service. The Etgar students study in separate classes from the older students, except for one course. In addition, the lecturers have received special training for teaching younger students and each student is matched with an older student mentor. Israel is a world leader in high tech and computer sciences, said the Director of the Etgar Programme, Professor Gad Landau of the universitys Department of Computer Sciences. But one of the problems we have is that the average Israeli completes his undergraduate studies between the ages of 25 and 29 three years later than the world average. During these three years professionals in other countries are busy establishing themselves in the field. Etgar provides a solution to this problem. Images of the University of Haifa. Dr Meyassed added that the programme created a unique window of opportunity for the participating students. It opens the universitys doors for them, based on merit, and warmly brings them in to the university environment while still in the secondary education system. It allows them to accumulate academic credit while still in high school, greatly enhancing their motivation. And it enables them to continue their academic studies following military service by ensuring them a place later on. The participation of World ORT-assisted students has been made possible thanks to the financial support of the Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine, which was formed in 1999 from the merger of the Jewish Community Centre and the Jewish Federation of Southern Maine. Its Executive Director, Emily Sandberg, said her organisation was excited to be supporting such a phenomenal initiative. You hear how well Israels doing in its economy and in high tech but there are still a lot of poorer kids in periphery areas that still need our help, Mrs Sandberg said. Were happy to help to give more people the chance they deserve to do the most with their lives. World ORT is the worlds largest Jewish education and vocational training non-government organisation and has benefited some 3 million people Jewish and non-Jewish in 100 countries since it was founded in 1880.