By William Kleinbaum-- In 2008 UJA Federation of Greater Toronto established The Scholarship Fund in support of one of its Israel Partner Communities, Bat Yam, in order to encourage and enable Ethiopian immigrants to attain higher education and/or vocational training. The Fund was based on the understanding that education and jobs are essential to upward mobility, and a vital component of the Ethiopian immigrant community integration.
In recent years the extreme shortage of nurses in Israel was highlighted in the news and Bat Yam, with its partners, took the initiative to develop a unique program for its community. Israel lags far behind most western countries in terms of number of nurses with 4.0 per 1000 citizens compared to Switzerland which has 18 nurses per 1000.
The Scholarship Fund worked with Mercaz Kivunim, a local guidance center for young adults in Bat Yam, the Ministries of Health and Education, Wolfson Hospital School of Nursing and the National Student Authority to recruit, counsel and provide ongoing support to ensure students will succeed.
The Wolfson Hospital School of Nursing developed a special six month preparatory course which started in October 2014. The Ministry of Education waived the psychometric exam acceptance criteria on the condition the course was successfully completed and provided additional tutorials and counseling to help the students succeed. The second part of the program runs for nearly three years, including 18 months of theoretical courses and then 14 months of practical field placements and internships.
Both the theoretical and practical studies were intensive, leaving very little time for the students to work to support themselves and their families. The Scholarship Fund helped to ensure that each student had help with tuition and a cost of living stipend. The amount of the stipend varied depending on marital status, number of children and year of Aliyah immigration to Israel.
Eighteen students are currently completing the final stages of the internships and participated in a special preparatory course to prepare them for the licensing exam on September 6, 2017. Two additional students who had received scholarships completed their degree last year.
The importance of the Scholarship Fund, for the Nursing School initiative cannot be overstated. This support helps reduce the severe shortage of professionals in this essential profession while at the same time enabling immigrants to train for better employment opportunities which ultimately highlights for the general Israeli public the tremendous contribution of this community while helping to eliminate any negative misconceptions.
This training helps students fulfill their personal potential and serve as role models for other members of their community while being a source of pride for their families, community and country.
Nursing school graduates are virtually guaranteed employment upon presentation of their certificate and license to practice. Many students are even approached in their third year by prospective health organizations to assure their hiring.
William Kleinbaum is the Managing Director Israel & Overseas, UJA of Greater Toronto | Jewish Federations of Canada - UIA