The UJC also took its media tour to check out some programming in the Negev… As JAFI spokesman Jacob Dallal told us, in a nutshell, Sderot is pretty depressing and the Negev is the future of Israel – so they wanted our trip to end on a Zionist upbeat.
Net@ was among the more interesting programs we saw during our quasi respite.
The program is a partnership bringing together Cisco, JAFI and the Israeli group Tapuach, a non-profit funded by the Recanti Foundation, whose Hebrew name translates to “apple” though it has no affiliation with the Apple you and I know (does the Fundermentalist smell a lawsuit?).
Net@ is a four-year-long after-school program run in lower-income areas that teaches high school students how to become computer repair technicians. When the students complete the course, they receive an internationally recognized certificate that qualifies them as IT techs. Open to “at-risk” students, the program seeks not A+ students, but those just a cut below, according to Net@ officials. The idea is to help students who might not have great financial prospects to find good-paying middle class jobs. And, it tries to attract girls, who are normally less likely to go into the IT filed.
We met with participants and instructors from the participating high school in Beer Sheva. The program there has about 100 participants right now, with a budget of $175,000. But next year, it might have to cut the number of new students it allows by half because of a budget crunch caused by the falling dollar.
Yet another reality hits home.