Israeli high schools benefit from new laboratories


22 March 2007 First phase of World ORTs Science Journey implemented World ORT has installed brand new, state-of-the-art science and technology laboratories at 19 Israeli high schools with laboratories at six more schools due to be completed next month. The quick upgrading of the schools facilities marks the successful implementation of the first phase of World ORTs NIS 32 million ($7.4 million) Kadima Mada (Science Journey) programme. Senior representatives of ORT America, British ORT and World ORT visited the bespoke facilities at nine of the schools in a whirlwind three-day tour this week. ORT America President Judy Menikoff said: The head of the science department at one of the schools told us that studying science without a lab was like learning to swim without water. Thats the perfect way to sum up the difference Kadima Mada is making. Launched in January, Kadima Mada is aimed at raising the standard of science and technology education in Israel. The programmes hundreds of projects in more than 30 local authorities mark a new phase in World ORTs 59-year-long commitment to bring the best practical education available to the Jewish State. The 25 schools that will benefit from the first phase of Kadima Mada were selected in cooperation with the Ministry of Education. Each one is receiving a tailor-made package worth about $50,000, which includes lab equipment and teacher training. Unveiling the plaque at Kadoorie High School. From left: Lower Galil Mayor Moti Dotan, Principal Yona Gur, Doreen Hermelin, Judy Menikoff and Campus Head Hillel Hilman. The ORT mission visited schools from Beer Sheva in the south to Horfesh in the Upper Galilee. It was an eye-opening experience, said the Incoming President of ORT America, Doreen Hermelin. I was so thrilled to see the amount of good were doing and the difference were making in the lives of the students were touching with our programmes and the difference were making in the schools by enhancing the quality of their science and technology programmes, Mrs Hermelin said. British ORT Executive Director Ivor Levene OBE added that it was easy to see how World ORTs contribution would make a significant difference to the communities visited this week. Every school we saw was completely different, Mr Levene said. But each one is deserving, each needs additional help and each are led by impressive people. They are all in underprivileged areas and most of the kids we saw had problems in their background. Despite all this, they are mostly areas where they have been without additional support from NGOs both internally and externally. Mayor of the Lower Galilee, Moti Dotan, met the ORT mission at the Kadoorie Agricultural High School. Founded in 1933, the school boasts the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin among its alumni but it now consider by the Ministry of Education to be in urgent need of assistance. Mr Dotan, who was a farmer and manager at Israels largest dairy products manufacturer Tnuva before being elected six years ago, is very proud of the school, whose 1,607 students include Jewish, Druze, Muslim and Christian Israelis. It also has dormitories in its Youth Village which are home to more than 300 teenagers from troubled backgrounds. The new ICT laboratory that World ORT has installed at the school will open a world of possibilities for the students, he said. Without the educational incentive and opportunity that Kadima Mada is bringing, many students would not reach the level necessary to serve in the army, Mr Dotan said. We dont get much support internationally but we hope that World ORTs big heart will open the door. This will give our students a good start to the future and for a career. Students at Horfesh High School try out the new ICT laboratory. Mrs Hermelin noted that at one school, the installation of a new laboratory had seen an immediate 370 per cent increase in the number of students signing on for science subjects. Praise for the Kadima Mada programme has also come from the Mayor of the Druze town of Horfesh, Rekad Kheredin. Horfesh High Schools 600 students come from traditional Druze families and almost all of them go on to serve in the Israeli army. The schools new ICT laboratory is expected to help students beat the high unemployment that currently affects their hometown, which is near the Lebanese border. This will give a new future for our children, Mr Kheredin said. World ORT is helping us to serve our country, Israel, in both the army and in civilian life and open avenues to engineering and other professions. Alon Shuster is the Mayor of Shaar HaNegev, whose fortified high school lies three kilometres from the Gaza border. We are permanently, day and night, threatened by Kassam rocket attacks. Some have actually hit the school wounding people, Mr Shuster said. But he said the municipality was also being challenged by its clients, the students who attend the high school, to provide an education that merits their taking the risk to travel into the danger zone for classes. We have to convince them that this is a good school to learn in. World ORT is helping us by allowing us to improve the product we provide, he said. World ORT Director General Robert Singer said the Kadima Mada mission had been shown extraordinary hospitality in every place it had visited. The mayors, the heads of the education authorities and the principals highly praised the efficiency and professionalism of the World ORT team, Mr Singer said. The concept of working in close cooperation with both the Ministry of Education and the heads of schools science and technology departments has proven to be a winner. If one adds to this the training which is scheduled to start immediately after Pesach in collaboration with the Weizmann Institute of Science, the Technion Israel Institute of Technology and other institutions, this brings phase one of Kadima Mada to a very successful conclusion. All of us at World ORT are looking forward to phase two and beyond. World ORT is the worlds 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.