21 June 2007 Financial help for needy students in Israel The second phase of World ORTs $7.4 million Kadima Mada (Science Journey) programme was implemented this week. Under World ORTs Students at Risk programme, some NIS 1.5 million-worth of vouchers were distributed to 15 schools across Israel where they would be given to students from poor families. There are plans to distribute vouchers in a further two schools. The 3,700 vouchers, which range in value between NIS 80 and NIS 500 each, can be redeemed for text books, sports kit, school supplies or uniforms. The assistance has been made possible thanks to support from ORT America and the Jewish Federations of North America together with matching funds contributed by Tsomet Sefarim book shop, H&O clothing store and stationery shop Office Depot. Some 4,000 students at Israeli schools that are part of World ORTs Science Journey initiative have been identified as being in urgent need of assistance in order to continue their studies, said Sherrie Gazit, World ORTs Projects Manager in Israel. Some of these students are from single-parent households, some have parents who are unemployed or underemployed, and still others are experiencing crises that have disrupted family income such as a death or serious illness. Other beneficiaries include new immigrants from Ethiopia, youth on the Naale programme who arrive alone in Israel from the former Soviet Union, and members of families which have found it difficult to make a living since being forcibly removed from Gaza. Students in Israeli high schools are required to provide some of their own textbooks as well as basic equipment, including calculators and tools for those studying vocational tracks. In those cases where parents are unable to buy such basic necessities students are put at a real disadvantage that may undermine their long term commitment to education. World ORTs Shmuel Cohen (right) presenting Horfesh High School Principal Rajih Gadban with the Students at Risk assistance. Voucher recipients are selected by teachers and counsellors at the schools who are not only familiar with each students needs but are able to have a close and supportive relationship with each one of them. The students are not made to feel as if they are charity cases but rather that the programme is a natural continuation of other school activities. This has a great effect on the students self-confidence and self-image and usually works to strengthen the ties between the student, the family and the school, Ms Gazit said. School principals told World ORT that the vouchers would make a real impact on students in need, she added. Shoshana Mirochnik, Principal at Shikma High School in Hof Ashkelon, told her: One of the students who will receive the book vouchers is a boy whose father is a drug addict; his mother has eight children and is dysfunctional. I am so glad that this year, thanks to World ORT, we can help him financially because we can see he has a lot of potential. He has developed into an excellent student and, although its not easy for him to study at home, his Bagrut exams so far have been excellent. We are so proud of him and I truly believe that every little bit of help that we can give him will bear fruit many times over. Shmuel Cohen, World ORTs Technology Education field team member in Israel, had a similarly enthusiastic response from school principals he met in the Druze and Arab communities. Rajih Gadban, Principal of Horfesh High School, and Zahi Barbara, Principal of Abu Snan, told me how the vouchers would improve the students attitudes to schoolwork. Imagine if you were a child going into a class and you didnt have the appropriate book to study from; or if you had a second hand text book in which answers had not been completely erased. There is no doubt that these kids will be able to take a greater pride in their work now that they will have the proper tools, Mr Cohen said. Mr Gadban said: All the kids broke out into a cheer when they were told about the vouchers because they hadnt been expecting it. And yesterday (Tuesday), at the end of academic year party, the parents expressed absolute amazement at World ORTs goodwill and support. They see this as a good start to the next academic year and will really help the children progress in their studies. Kadima Mada was launched in January 2007 with the aim of raising the standard of science and technology education in Israel. Within three months, World ORT had installed state-of-the-art, custom-designed science and technology laboratories in schools on some 30 campuses. The rapid implementation of Phase I which also involves the provision of teacher training and equipment upgrading of Kadima Mada marked a new phase in World ORTs six-decade-long commitment to bring the best practical education available to the Jewish State. 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.