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International Symposium Dealing with Work of Israel in Rural Planning and Development

The pioneering work of Israel, and especially of the Jewish Agency’s settlement department, in rural planning and development received international recognition this week in an international symposium being held this week under the auspices of an international group of scholars and experts from universities in Britain and Germany, in Third World Countries and international organizations.

The working group was set up to study and help apply Israel’s experience in integrated rural regional development — known among experts as the “Rehovot Approach” in honor of the site of the Jewish Agency’s Settlement Study Center (SSC).

In a pre-seminar press conference today, Prof. Raanan Weitz, head of the Agency’s settlement department and chairman of the study center, and Zvi Weininger, its director, explained that the Israeli experience had its beginning in the planning of the Lachish region nearly 25 years ago.

MODE OF OPERATION

The SSC has since then updated the Lachish data and added new data obtained from work on other regions and examined problems of other Third World countries. Since it started work in 1965 some 700 professionals from Africa, Asia and Latin America have studied at the SSC in Rehovot, which holds two courses a year, one in English for Asia/Africa and one in Spanish for Latin America. In addition, a special course is held in Brazil, in Portuguese.

The students, all holding degrees in economics, agriculture, planning or architecture, spend some months in Israel studying theory and then apply what they have learned in their home countries under the guidance of Israeli experts sent abroad. Refresher courses are held regularly, to amend theory in the light of practice.

This week’s symposium is being attended by some 25 experts from a score of countries, together with 30 students studying at the current course, with invited guests from Israel.

The Rehovot approach is described by Weitz as an integrated application of rural planning taking into account the national aims of each country — its economy and industrial position and potential, its physical urban and rural town planning, and the level of its government and other institutions. “It is one rational, integrated plan for a specific area,” he says.

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