Prime Minister Olmert praises World ORT


20 June 2008 Prime Minister Olmert praises World ORT Prime Minister Ehud Olmert praised World ORT’s investment in high-tech equipment and concepts in Israeli schools this week saying it was increasing the effectiveness of teaching. The Prime Minister made the comment after seeing in action smart class technology which World ORT had installed at Be’er Sheva’s Makif Aleph High School as part of the Kadima Mada (Science Journey) programme to raise science and technology education in the Jewish State. He and his top staff had joined Education Minister Professor Yuli Tamir and leading Ministry officials on the tour to see the effect of education reforms underway in the city. Mr Olmert expressed his gratitude to World ORT for introducing the technology to six educational campuses across the country and his hope that all Israeli schoolchildren would soon have access to the so-called smart classes, in which interactive white boards (IWBs) connected to students’ laptops replace the traditional ‘chalk and talk’ approach. Click to see more photographs Mr Olmert paid tribute to World ORT, saying it was ‘much more than a symbol; it’s an institution of substance. I salute World ORT for its assistance, support and contribution to the education system of Israel’. World ORT has installed 10 smart classes in each of the six campuses under Phase 5 of Kadima Mada, which is implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and local municipalities. Before World ORT started implementing Phase 5 in February this year such technology was available in only one class in each of 27 schools. Mr Olmert said he had been moved by the experience of seeing the new technology in action and talking to students and teachers about the difference it was making to their school experience. ‘What I’ve seen is a sign of a changing language, the founding of a new language even,’ he said. ‘For example, to find out what was happening in the world we used to switch on the television or listen to the radio; now we can access the latest news, constantly updated, at the click of a button. We’re speaking a new language and these changes to the traditional classroom are part of the new reality. My question is: will Israel be able to give youth the ability to acquire these new languages as quickly as other countries do It’s very important that our youth are able to compete with their peers in other countries and I would like to see them have the tools they need to achieve as much as possible.’ The Mayor of Be’er Sheva, Yakov Terner, was at the school for the Prime Minister’s visit. ‘Makif Aleph was the first high school to be built in Be’er Sheva,’ Mayor Terner said. ‘It is highly significant that it is now the foremost scientific and technological school in the south of Israel.’ The Prime Minister also participated in a biology lesson at the school using advanced data logging equipment installed as part of a computerised ‘intelligent laboratory’ by World ORT last year. Intelligent laboratories have been installed at Kadima Mada schools across the country, raising interest in the study of science among students. The high-tech equipment collects data from experiments as they are conducted and records and processes the information in tabular or graphical form. Mr Olmert allowed students to measure his pulse, temperature and other vital signs as part of an investigation into how normal readings range between individuals. World ORT Director General Robert Singer said: ‘Innovation and the ability for advanced learning are the main assets of the State of Israel and we need to push their advancement at all times. This revolution in science and technology education is starting deliberately in communities away from the generally well-served centre of the country. I believe that the smart classes and other systems that World ORT is bringing to students in these peripheral communities will bring social change to the betterment of all sectors of Israeli society.’ At the launch of Phase 5 at the multicultural Kadoorie High School in February, Professor Tamir described it as a ‘revolution’ in Israeli education. In Be’er Sheva she again thanked World ORT for its initiative in expanding the use of such technology in the Jewish State. In addition to Makif Aleph, ‘smart classes’ have been introduced at the Shifman School at Tirat HaCarmel, Horfesh High School, the Misgav High School in the Galilee, and at Sha’ar HaNegev High School, near Gaza. A further 60 smart classrooms are due to be installed in the next four months. Each class features an IWB attached to the teacher’s computer and an LCD projector, a laser printer, teaching software and wireless network. Each school is also provided with 32 laptops – enough for two classes – that can be supplied to classes as and when needed thanks to the wireless connections. The smart class technology allows the Israel schools to be linked to World ORT’s videoconferencing network which will eventually connect them to World ORT institutions in Russia, Argentina, Ukraine, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Mexico, Australia, Italy and Uruguay.