Special Bulletin – Top education prize for Israeli schools supported by World ORT


Israel’s most prestigious education prize has been awarded to two schools supported by World ORT.

President Shimon Peres and Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar have announced that the Nesher Comprehensive High School, near Haifa, and the Levinson High School in Kiryat Yam have won the National Education Award.

The prize recognizes the dedication and skill of the school communities, both of which also recognized World ORT’s contribution.

“The support we have received from World ORT is highly valuable,” said Nesher Principal Dr Chaya Yelinek. “It has helped us to establish a civil engineering project, and provided electronics students with computers so that they can document their work. And our science students now have modern laboratories including NOVA data loggers.”

And Kiryat Yam Mayor Shmuel Sisso welcomed the award for Levinson, saying it was a result of his city’s on-going investment in education and the cooperation between stakeholders. “This award is also a direct result of continuous and successful cooperation with World ORT, which contributes a significant contribution to promoting education in the city,” Mayor Sisso said. “We are proud to be the first city north of Haifa to win this important award and I am sure we will continue to achieve exceptional education achievements in the future.”

Levinson is a small, delapidated school, a third of whose 250 Orthodox students belong to impoverished Ethiopian families. But things are looking up: not only does it lie adjacent to the resource rich Alex and Betty Schoenbaum Science, Educational, Cultural and Sports Campus, which World ORT completed last year, it has introduced World ORT’s Mabat project – Learning Science through Technology. The school’s graduation figures have risen from 29 per cent to 82 per cent and it is now the subject of a World ORT renovation programme which will include a new science and technology wing and library.

The school’s Principal, Yitzchak Zora, said one reason for the school’s success was the uncompromising dedication of its staff which has seen the introduction of tutoring for students after hours and even during vacation time.

“Our school is open to students every day from eight in the morning until eight at night as long as they learn,” Mr Zora said.

Nearly 80 schools entered the year-long award process, which involved close scrutiny of all aspects of the educational and social life of each institution.

A Ministry of Education spokesman said the prize winners were characterized by their extraordinary efforts to minimize gaps and prevent students from dropping out; by their support for underachievers, giving them the confidence to reach their goals; by their activities for students with special needs; and for the way they instill the importance of community involvement.

Nesher Mayor David Amar said the prize was recognition of his municipality’s long term investment in education and “strengthens my belief that education is the only way to bridge gaps in society”. And the Mayor thanked everyone, including World ORT, who has been investing in his city’s education programme.

The prize was awarded to Nesher not only for its academic achievements – it consistently achieves a matriculation rate of more than 80 per cent – but also for its near-100 per cent enlistment of graduates in the IDF, most of them in combat units.

“This recognition from the Ministry of Education motivates us and empowers us to do even better,” Dr Yelinek said. “This is not only about prestige and recognition but also a way to promote the students’ progress, excellence and self-esteem. Our students choose to come to Nesher rather than other local schools and this prize will make them prouder than ever.”

That was certainly the case for Year 12 student Liad Osmo, who was accompanying Mayor Amar to a Yom HaZikaron service when Minister Sa’ar called to tell him about the award.

“It was very emotional to hear the news because we know how hard we all worked – students and teachers – to get there,” Liad said.

Announcing the prize winners, the Minister of Education, Mr Sa’ar, said: “I believe that a good education must equip young people with fundamental human and social values. I tend to criticize the education system but this prize bears witness to the its successes and achievements. The prize emphasizes the values that we must pass on to future generations.”

And President Peres added: “Teachers are pioneers who enable us to climb Jacob’s ladder. Teachers clear a path which students can be educated to follow. I want to say to each student: your head is full of potential – use it, don’t be lazy, don’t be spoilt, don’t waste it. Continue to build our nation.”

World ORT Director General and CEO Robert Singer congratulated the schools and municipalities on their achievement.

“The teachers and mayors do an outstanding job in this challenging and critically important area,”? Mr Singer said. “But we at World ORT can also feel a lot of naches in the significant contribution we have made to positive change in these communities. We look forward to continue supporting them in the years to come and to celebrate with them further achievements.”?