The search is on for talented teenagers to join World ORT’s new engineering and technology scholarship program now that it has secured $50 million in funding. Named after the Swiss town which hosted World ORT’s Central Training Institute for three decades after the war, the Anieres II program will pluck promising young people from low socio-economic backgrounds in the Diaspora and provide them with a world class education in Israel.
Candidates for the initial group of some 25 students are being sought at ORT schools in the former Soviet Union, France and Argentina; the net is likely to be broadened to include Bulgaria and Italy and beyond as time goes on. Those who pass the rigorous selection process will join a residential educational programme which will see them through from 9th grade to the completion of their academic studies at the Technion “ﾓ Israel Institute of Technology. This year’s intake will merge with a matching number of Israeli students in 2014 as another similar number of Diaspora students enter the programme.
Other partners in the programme, which is due to start in September, include the Ministry of Education and the Na’aleh residential high school programme in Israel for academic high achievers from the Diaspora.
The anonymous donor whose $15 million investment started the ball rolling was one of the Central Training Institute’s thousands of students. He went on to become a successful technology entrepreneur in the United States while many other graduates became instructors in ORT programmes.
“I am happy that this programme is finally being implemented. It’s a good programme and I think it’s wonderful that [World ORT Director General and CEO] Robert Singer found other parties that see its benefits and are prepared to invest along with me,”? he said.
World ORT Kadima Mada Director Avi Ganon said the aim was to produce some 400 engineers over the life of the programme.
“Probably most of the graduates will choose to remain in Israel as they will have a job and will have built a network of friends and colleagues. That will be of enormous benefit to the country, which is suffering from a shortage of people with such qualifications,”? Mr Ganon said.
But that is only one aspect of the program which appeals to the Anieres graduate-turned-donor.
“I’m really happy that students from low socio-economic backgrounds will be going to a very good school. I hope that the programme will give them the arms to fight, to have a good life because of the knowledge and skills they will have gained,”? he said.
“It will be good for everybody, first and foremost the students,”? he added. “We live in a technological world so there will always be the need for engineers. And the world will become more and more technological so society will need these people whether it’s Israel, France or wherever. I think the students will also be grateful to ORT for helping them with their education just as I have always appreciated studying at Anieres.”?
The new World ORT programme could also be an opportunity for young people to escape resurgent anti-Semitism in their respective countries, he said.
This time last year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Na’aleh program with a group of students and graduates. Wishing them a happy Passover, Mr Netanyahu said, “Without a doubt, Na’aleh is a type of exodus from Egypt. I hope that each one of you continues to climb higher and higher here in the Land of Israel.”?
Mr Singer was instrumental in setting up Na’aleh in 1992.
“I hope that Anieres II will become the crème de la crème of Na’aleh. It’s thanks to the Na’aleh infrastructure that we’re able to do a very special programme like this; without it, it would have been much more difficult,”? he said.
“Each student will be nurtured and supported through a process of growth and achievement showing that no matter how challenging their background they not only have the right to dream but also the opportunity to realise their aspirations.”?