Science campus wows Minister, set to become regional education hub


Israel’s Education Minister, Gideon Sa’ar, has toured World ORT’s new educational campus in Kiryat Yam just as the organisation starts work on improving the facilities at the adjacent Levinson High School.

It was Mr Sa’ar’s first look at the Alex and Betty Schoenbaum Science, Educational, Cultural and Sports Campus in operation, eight months after he attended the opening ceremony of the $18 million development.

He said: “The campus is a first rate facility which has enabled Kiryat Yam to make a significant leap forward to become a leading centre of education in the north of the country.”

Accompanying the Minister was Rachel Metuki, Head of the Haifa Division of the Ministry of Education, who will ensure that all schools in the region are aware of the campus and make use of it.

Kiryat Yam Mayor Shmuel Siso said: “Our success is a direct result of making education our top priority and the partnership we enjoy with World ORT and the Ministry of Education.”
Avi Ganon, Acting Head of World ORT’s office in Israel, said: “The Minister greeted me by asking how World ORT was going to surprise him this time – he sees us as a creative organisation which combines new initiatives with the ability to implement them according to best practice. And he was certainly pleasantly surprised, shocked even, by what he saw: this is the first development of its kind in Israel which combines such sophisticated educational facilities in this way.” The campus boasts a state-of-the-art science centre, science park, planetarium, marine observatory, Ethiopian heritage centre, athletics track and aquatic sports centre. The redevelopment of this brownfield site in the centre of this blue collar seaside city went hand in hand with the extensive renovation of the neighbouring Rodman High School. Now, World ORT has turned its attention to the Levinson High School, which serves 250 children from the city’s Orthodox community, a third of them Ethiopian immigrants. The dilapidated school is attracting fewer students despite dramatically improving its educational performance. “In the past five years the school’s graduation figures have risen from 29 per cent to 82 per cent despite its poor resources. Imagine what they’ll be capable of achieving with the new facilities and equipment we’re providing,” Mr Ganon said. World ORT plans to renovate the school’s science and technology wing, including the creation of fully equipped biology and computer laboratories. Students will also be able to undertake more complicated experiments at the nearby D. Dan and Betty Kahn Science Centre in the Schoenbaum Campus. Another major component of the renovation programme is the expansion and enhancement of the school’s library. Currently 114 square metres, one-third of which is also used as a pedagogical centre and storeroom for text books, the library has only 1,000 books (compared with the 15,000 other local schools’ libraries have). World ORT plans to expand the library to 130 square metres, create an annex for a pedagogical centre and provide a new stock of books as well as undertake general repairs and improvements and install computers and an interactive whiteboard. “Many of the school’s students come from such poor backgrounds that they prefer to stay in school after hours and take advantage of its relative comfort. The library serves as an area where the children can spend that extra time and in the process benefit from the resources available,” Mr Ganon said. The school’s proximity to the new Nate Lipson Ethiopian Heritage Centre paves the way for collaboration between the two in providing after school tutorials as well as enrichment activities for both children and parents.