Seymour Schulich donates $2 million for groundbreaking Israeli school techn

Project funded through UJA Federation of Greater Toronto

Teachers and students in more than 400 Israeli classrooms will soon be thinking smart thanks to a visionary $2 million donation from Toronto philanthropist Seymour Schulich toward a futuristic education program in Israel. The exciting project is being funded through UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.

The smart classroom initiative is a joint venture of World ORT, the Israeli government and local municipalities.

UJA Federation is partnering with World ORT, the leading Jewish non-governmental organization that specializes in cutting edge education and vocational training, on the Schulich Canada Smart Classroom Initiative. Through the initiative, approximately 40,000 students will be provided with laptop computers in the classroom, connected  wirelessly to the teacher’s workstation and an electronic whiteboard at the front of the class. This new, pioneering classroom technology will allow teachers in 411 Israeli classrooms to integrate sound, animation, video, live web content and text in an interactive fashion. Images displayed on the whiteboard can be directed to student laptops and, students will be able to work on their laptops throughout the lesson.

The wireless network links student computers, the teacher’s work station and the whiteboard. Eventually, the “smart classroom” technology will also be connected to ORT’s video conferencing network covering countries such as Russia and other former Soviet states, Italy, Argentina, Australia, Uruguay, Mexico and many others.

“This initiative offers boundless opportunities for educational excellence on a scale that may have been contemplated but never implemented before,” said Schulich. “All of the northern Israel classrooms benefiting from this endeavour are located in economically or socially distressed areas and 20 percent serve Israeli-Arab children.”

Among the many schools implementing the Smart Classroom Initiative are:
• Megiddo Regional Junior and Senior School which educates many children who have special needs, including blind youngsters and those suffering from Down’s syndrome and cerebral palsy.
• The Anne Frank High School at Kibbutz Sasa, which educates Jewish, Arab, Druze and Circassion students.
• Birav Elementary school, serving Orthodox Jewish students in Safed.
• The Abu Salim Salman Alshich Comprehensive School in the historic Israeli village of Abu Sna’an. The school, with 1,200 students, runs classes for disabled children including those with hearing impairments.

The Schulich Canada Smart Classroom Initiative will follow the World ORT Smart Classroom pilot project, launched in April 2008. At that time, Israel’s former Education Minister Yuli Tamir called it “a revolution” and “the first step in the process that will bring Israeli schools into the 21st century.”

Israeli Vice Prime Minister Sylvan Shalom, the current Minister for Development of the Galilee and the Negev, said the new technology would improve the learning capabilities for children in northern Israel. This technology will “inevitably lead to a reduction in the social gaps that now exist between the northern and central regions of the country,” Shalom said.

“I am extremely grateful to Seymour Schulich for this outstanding donation,” said Robert Singer, director general & CEO of World ORT. “It means a great deal that the leading donation for this initiative has come from a person of his calibre.” 

“The more than 400 classrooms that will be part of this exciting initiative now join a remarkable family of schools across Canada connected with the Schulich brand in educational excellence,” noted UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, president & CEO Ted Sokolsky. “We were thrilled to help facilitate this gift that will have an educational impact for many decades to come.”

Seymour Schulich is one of the country’s most respected business leaders and philanthropists, whose commitment to education has transformed education facilities across Canada and around the world. He has made gifts to York University - including the internationally respected Schulich School of Business - the University of Western Ontario, University of Calgary, Dalhousie University, McGill University, and Nipissing University. He has also donated to the University of Nevada, Reno, and the Technion (Israel Institute of Technology).

World ORT is the world’s largest Jewish education and vocational training non-government organization and whose services have reached more than 3 million people - Jewish and non-Jewish - in 100 countries since its founding in 1880.

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