World ORT launches Science City project in Israel


November 2, 2007 World ORT launches Science City project in Israel World ORTs historic dedication to Israeli education has taken a momentous step into the future with the creation of its first Science City and a joint commitment to invest millions of shekels in scientific and technological studies over the next three years. The conversion of a building at Kiryat Yams Rodman High School into a centre for scientific and technological studies represents a strengthening of World ORTs Kadima Mada (Science Journey) programme, which has already seen custom made, state-of-the-art laboratories and staff facilities as well as teacher training and material support for poor students provided at more than 30 locations across Israel. World ORT Executive Committee members, school principals, students, and parents representatives were among 250 people at a ceremony at Kiryat Yam, near Haifa, to officially announce the Science City project. The ceremony was followed by a meeting in Tel Aviv with Education Minister Yuli Tamir and senior Ministry officials to sign a policy paper between the Ministry, the municipality of Kiryat Yam and World ORT to promote scientific and technological education until the end of 2010. The policy paper, which is due to be signed by representatives of the 32 other municipalities in which World ORT is running Kadima Mada projects, states: We believe that, with the assistance of advanced scientific-technological education, we can give students essential tools with far reaching social ramifications, to bridge gaps, to promote the access of weak populations to the centres of power and economic strength and to encourage personal excellence. The paper sets a minimum target of NIS 150 million to be invested in science and technology education until the end of 2010 with at least half the money to be raised by World ORT, the rest coming in matching funds from the Ministry, municipalities and other partners. World ORT Executive Committee Chairman Mauricio Merikanskas, Education Minister Yuli Tamir, Kiryat Yam Mayor Shmuel Siso and World ORT Director General Robert Singer sign the policy paper to raise standards of scientific and technological education in Israel. World ORT Director General Robert Singer said Professor Tamir and her senior officials were very happy with the implementation of Kadima Mada and that its successes at Rodman had laid the foundations for the Science City project. Mr Singer added that the collaboration with the Ministry of Education allows for the best use of the budgets that World ORT has raised for this project. I am glad for the opportunity to be such strong partners with the Ministry in this important undertaking. World ORT Executive Committee member Shelley Fagel addresses 250 people at the Kiryat Yam Science City ceremony. In the Tel Aviv meeting she was a co-signatory on the policy paper in her capacity as Chair of the ORT America Executive Committee. The Science City project has been made possible by World ORTs injection of NIS 2 million thanks to a donation from Dan Kahn of ORT America the Ministry of Education, and the Municipality of Kiryat Yam. It involves the conversion of the Rodman Schools existing, under-resourced science block into a well equipped centre to be named the D. Dan and Betty Kahn Science Centre to serve thousands of people throughout the city of 45,000 people, about half of whom are immigrants, as well as Rodmans own students and residents of nearby towns. In addition, students can participate in a three-year programme in cooperation with the internationally renowned Technion Israel Institute of Technology. Grade 12 students, in their final year of education prior to national service, will culminate their participation by working in close cooperation with the Technion for their final project. The Head of the World ORT Representative Office in Israel, Rony Kalinsky, said: This is an holistic Kadima Mada project. Until now we have focused on the needs of individual schools. With the Kiryat Yam Science City we are looking at the educational needs of the whole city. Through this, we and our partners will provide everyone, adults and children, gifted and struggling students, with opportunities to learn with formal and informal programmes during the day and in the evenings. At the ceremony, Kiryat Yam Mayor Shmuel Siso thanked World ORT for its support, which he said was beginning to heal an education system afflicted by various illnesses over recent years. World ORTs activities are a fresh and optimistic breeze for all those who deal with education in the city. Students in Kiryat Yam today have more access to information and to academic achievement thanks to World ORT, Mayor Siso said. Mr Kalinsky stressed the importance of the Rashi Foundations agreement in principle to be involved in the project. The strategic partnership between World ORT and the Rashi Foundation provides a highly beneficial complementary approach because they are already working with elementary schools in the area while we have been focusing on high schools, he said. Mr Singer added that special credit should go to Dan Kahn for his generosity, Mayor Siso, who has been the driving force behind the project, World ORTs Dr Gaby Meyassed, who developed the initial concept, and World ORTs Dr Ariyeh Getter. 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.