The hundreds of Arab girls enrolled on extra-curricular courses at World ORT’s new YOU-niversity in Jerusalem are looking forward to gaining the skills and knowledge they need to carry them forward to university. Three hundred teenagers booked places even before Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat officially opened the centre at the Beit Hanina Municipal School for Girls. Another 200 are expected to enroll in the coming weeks.
“From the moment we started marketing the centre I’ve had principals and parents calling me; they are very excited because Jerusalem needs something like this to encourage and support students in science and technology,”? said the YOU-niversity’s manager, Dr Tahani Mala’bi.
The Jerusalem municipality is sharing the cost of the new centre with World ORT “ﾓ part of its investment in the city’s eastern suburbs, Mr Barkat said, to reduce social disparities.
“Education is an excellent tool for bringing people closer together and we will continue to invest in the education system. Education will enable students to have the tools necessary for a successful future,”? Mr Barkat said.
The new center will focus on providing science and technology enrichment courses to female middle-school students from five schools in the Israeli capital’s eastern neighborhoods. Subjects include physics, medicine, robotics, engineering and astronomy and, by popular demand, English and Hebrew.
“English is very important in the study of science and students need good Hebrew if they want to go to an Israeli university,”? said Dr Mala’bi, who is looking forward to seeing the YOU-niversity respond and develop to the local community’s needs.
“We’re starting by offering courses to girls because in our community girls don’t have so many opportunities. We want to support them and encourage them to learn about science and let them discover that they can do it, to empower them. I’m sure that in the future we will take on boys as well,”? she said.
The Jerusalem YOU-niversity is the sixth of its kind opened by World ORT in disadvantaged communities in Israel and the second serving Arab communities, the other being in Nazareth. There are plans for similar facilities serving Jerusalem’s Haredi community.
Open during the afternoons and evenings, the centres offer subjects which are not available at local day schools, which close at lunchtime. And where school classes can have as many as 40 students “ﾓ making personalised attention difficult “ﾓ the centres’ classes are limited to 20 teenagers who enjoy the support of two mentors. Each centre uses local professionals to run courses for local students and draws on input from national leaders including Hebrew University, Ben Gurion University, Machon Lev “ﾓ Jerusalem College of Technology, and Micron Industries. Moti Dotan, World ORT Kadima Mada Chairman, said: “We are pleased to continue to encourage the study of science amongst our children. This will not only enrich their world, it will increase the number of students specializing in science and technology and help them to gain access to higher education in the field of their choice.”
World ORT Kadima Mada CEO Avi Ganon added: “This our first project in Jerusalem after seven years focused on disadvantaged communities in the Galilee and Negev is, I believe, a sign of many more to come.”?