More help for Ethiopian students in Israel


13 July 2007 New phase in World ORTs partnership with the Ethiopian National Project World ORT and the Ethiopian National Project (ENP) have embarked on a new phase of their four-year-old relationship, together spending more than $300,000 on a project to provide educational support to young Ethiopian immigrants in Beer Sheva. The project will help some 600 Ethiopian students in the 2007-2008 academic year in addition to the more than 1,600 across Israel due to benefit from similar assistance stemming from an agreement signed by ENP Director General Nigist Mengesha and World ORT Director General Robert Singer in January 2006. The Ethiopian population has the highest rate of poverty of any social group in Israel, so we are anxious to help in the best way we can. We are delighted to be increasing our collaboration with a first class, professionally run organisation like the ENP on what is a critical project, Mr Singer said. World ORT has a long standing commitment to Ethiopian Jewry; this project is simply a continuation of our role as a major educational service provider in Ethiopia. World ORT is meeting approximately one-third of the cost of the School Performance and Community Empowerment (SPACE) programme in Beer Sheva with the ENP providing the balance. World ORTs involvement will increase science and technology studies for the participants. SPACE is designed to achieve equality of opportunity for Ethiopian youth and enable them to realise their full potential by providing supplementary tuition in small groups, strengthening students proficiency in crucial subjects with preparatory lessons for the Bagrut examinations, and encouraging periods of intensive study. In addition, SPACE addresses social needs and personal development: Ethiopian-Israeli counsellors strengthen the students connection with their heritage and provides lunch so that the teenagers can concentrate on their work. World ORT and the ENP are determined to help Ethiopian students in Israel create a happy future. World ORT now has three projects under way in Beer Sheva: under the aegis of the $7.4 million Kadima Mada (Science Journey) programme, a state-of-the-art, custom-made science laboratory has been installed at the Makif Aleph High School; the Athena project will provide laptops for teachers in four primary schools that feed Makif Aleph; and the third project is SPACE. Last years letter of understanding signed by World ORT and the ENP was itself the fruit of three years of negotiations between the two organisations. The agreement sealed the future of a pilot cooperation in 2005 through which more than 500 students benefited from SPACE, administered by ORT Israel. By the following academic year, the number of students had more than trebled. In the coming academic year 1,667 students are expected to benefit from the ORT Israel-administered project thanks to the initiative and exhaustive groundwork of World ORT over a number of years, Mr Singer said. Not only did World ORT prepare the way for partnership with the ENP, we encouraged ORT supporters in the United States to assist the Jewish Federations in raising money for the $1.5 million-plus project as both World ORT and the ENP are under the umbrella of the UJC. World ORT started working to help Ethiopian Jewry in the 1950s. By the 1970s, together with the JDC, it established a full programme 19 schools employing 73 teachers and educating a total of 1,400 students. World ORT continued to operate International Cooperation projects in Ethiopia until 1999 and is geared to supporting a UJC initiative to help the aliyah of the estimated 20,000 Falashmura still in Ethiopia. After meeting World ORT senior professionals, Ms Mengesha, the ENPs Director General, said: I think its important that the ENP works with ORT. ORT worked in Ethiopia for so many years and in Israel it contributes a lot. The ENP sees ORT as a natural partner. 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.