Kadima Mada has extended into the northern Israel town of Nahariya for the first time with the creation of six “ﾘsmart classes’ at the Nofar Junior High School.
The classes were formally opened this week by the Minister for Development of the Galilee and the Negev, and Vice Prime Minister Sylvan Shalom, whose department is partnered with the Ministry of Education, local municipalities and Kadima Mada to bring the 21st century technology to more than 80 relatively under-resourced Jewish and non-Jewish schools and so benefit some 40,000 students a year.
Until now, the schools which have had their classes fitted with interactive whiteboards (IWBs) and laptops have either been participating in Kadima Mada’s pilot programme or have benefited from other investments made by World ORT’s programmatic arm in Israel. Nahariya “ﾓ a seaside town of approximately 50,000 people which is twinned with Miami Beach, Florida “ﾓ is the first of many communities across Israel’s northern Galilee region to enjoy the benefits of the Schulich Canada Smart Classroom Initiative, the name given to the collaborative upgrade of local schools following the injection of $2.1 million by Toronto entrepreneur and philanthropist Seymour Schulich in partnership with the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.
Kadima Mada aims to equip a further 134 classrooms in 26 schools with the technology over the summer vacation. For five of the communities to benefit “ﾓ Tsfat, Rosh Pinah, Carmiel, Maalot-Tarshihah and Mj’ar “ﾓ it will be, like Nahariya, their first taste of what World ORT can do to raise educational standards.
Mr Shalom, who praised ORT’s commitment to Israel at the British ORT Gala Dinner last year, sat in on a demonstration of the IWB given by science teacher Orli Kashi.
“I have only been working with this equipment for a short time,”? Ms Kashi said, “but I can already appreciate how much it will help me to teach my students.”?
The Minister used the occasion to reiterate the importance of education to the development of opportunities for individuals and of material and social well-being for communities.
“In my first meeting with the Mayor of Nahariya, Z’aki Sabbag, I asked him what kind of assistance he needed and he said “ﾘeducation’. I agree that education is the most important factor in taking this region forward. It is more difficult to improve the system in outlying parts of the country like this but we have to give our students in the periphery the same options and conditions as those growing up in the centre,”? Mr Shalom said.
By reducing the education gap with the wealthier central part of Israel, the Schulich Canada Smart Classroom Initiative would boost the development of the Galilee as a whole.
“On taking office I set myself the goal of bringing an additional 300,000 people to the Galilee over the coming decade. Our commitment is not only to attract new residents but to create the conditions which will make them want to stay. Education is a crucial factor in parents’ decision-making process,”? Mr Shalom explained.
“I am very happy with the progress of the smart class initiative and look forward to future major collaborations with Kadima Mada and World ORT,”? he added.
Kadima Mada Executive Director Rony Kalinsky said the programme was much more than simply providing equipment, including also teacher training and the development of learning materials “ﾓ but there was no underestimating the contribution of the IWBs to bring a new dimension to teaching.
“In next week’s Torah portion we read about Moses bringing water from the rock,”? Mr Kalinsky said. “Just as Moses brought life-giving water from an inanimate rock so the equipment we install brings new ways of interesting children in lessons and quenching their thirst for knowledge.”?