World ORT supports a ‘Laptop for every teacher’ programme


30 August 2007 World ORT backs programme launched by Prime Minister Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has launched the Laptop for every teacher programme, a pilot project of which is supported by World ORT. World ORT Director General Robert Singer was at the Prime Ministers Office in Jerusalem to help launch the programme, which ultimately will see the distribution of 60,000 laptops to every teacher in Israel. World ORTs leadership has set the improvement and advancement of scientific-technological education in Israel as its goal, Mr Singer said. The vast knowledge and expertise World ORT has acquired through its 127 years of activity, as well as its ability to raise funds around the world, will be invaluable in achieving this goal. World ORTs initial contribution is funding the supply of 100 laptops to teachers at the Makif Aleph Junior High School in Beer Sheva as well as in four elementary schools whose pupils are expected to join Makif Aleph. Makif Aleph is one of more than 30 campuses that have been benefiting from World ORTs $7.2 million Kadima Mada (Science Journey) programme. The teachers receiving laptops will also be trained so that they can maximise their use of the new equipment in their all important work. Improving teachers computer skills will provide them with an additional teaching tool that can advance the level of teaching generally, Mr Singer said. Robert Singer with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The Prime Minister and Education Minister Yuli Tamir, who was also at the launch, saw the programme complementing government attempts to raise the status of the teaching profession as part of a general raising of standards in schools. We have great schools, exemplary teachers but I am not certain that over the years we have given them the appropriate conditions to fulfil their responsibilities, Mr Olmert said. The education system is changing faster than expected and what we are doing today is an attempt to change the status of Israeli teachers. The start of the academic year will be a new beginning for many students and for many teachers as well, who will fulfil their responsibilities with greater pride and greater joy. Uri Ben-Ari, Education Minister Yuli Tamir and Robert Singer. Ms Tamir welcomed the partnership between the government, the Israel Teachers Union, sponsors World ORT and the Mirage Foundation, Fujitsu-Siemens, and the Athena Foundation, which initiated the programme under the leadership of its founder Uri Ben-Ari, former Executive Vice-President of Ness Technologies. I see this project will go a long way to restoring the image and self-esteem of the teaching profession, she said. But it will also close the technology gap that often exists between technologically savvy children and their teachers. The programmes purpose, the Ministry of Educations Head of Science and Technology Administration, Dr Hanna Vinnik, told Haaretz, is to increase teachers access to computers, which affects all aspects of our lives. A teacher who doesnt use a computer in class is not a fitting model for the students. The Education Ministry wants to speed up the widespread use of computers in the education system. Mr Singer added: This partnership is a win-win situation that has the highest potential of benefiting thousands of Israeli students. Yossi Wasserman, Chair of the Israel Teachers Union, told the launch: Historically, mans best friend was the dog. Now, with modern technology, its the mouse. World ORT has told the Athena Foundation that it will enlarge its contribution to the programme, within the framework of Kadima Mada, on condition that the pilot in the south of the country is implemented successfully. More than 30 science and technology laboratories have been installed in schools across Israel under the aegis of World ORTs Kadima Mada programme. In addition, the programme has seen the distribution of NIS 1.5 million-worth of vouchers to needy student to help them pay for school essentials such as text books. Work is under way to establish WOTECs (World ORT Teacher Empowerment Centres) in 27 schools. 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.