JERUSALEM (JTA) – World ORT is investing $12.6 million to install 400 "smart classrooms" throughout northern Israel.
Through its programmatic arm in Israel, Kadima Mada, World ORT said it will begin with 72 relatively under-resourced Jewish and non-Jewish schools, which will benefit some 40,000 students a year.
The first smart classrooms will be installed in schools in Naharia and Megiddo, according to Silvan Shalom, minister for Development of the Galilee and the Negev, as well as deputy prime minister, and Education Minister Gideon Saar.
In 2008, Kadima Mada tripled the number of such high-tech classrooms in Israel by equipping 60 rooms with Interactive Whiteboard, wireless Internet and other technological aids on six campuses and providing ongoing teacher training in their use.
Shalom said the new technology would improve the learning capabilities of children in the Galilee, which would “inevitably lead to a reduction in the social gaps that now exist between the northern and central regions of the country.” This would “bring about an educational and social revolution,” he said.
The Ministry of Development of the Negev and the Galilee has committed $4 million to the project. The Ministry of Education will provide 120 hours of training over two years for each of the 3,600 teachers using the technology.
Some of the teacher training will be undertaken virtually as part of a special project developed in partnership with the Clore Foundation and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Municipalities will refurbish the classrooms to accommodate the new technology, earmarking an estimated $2 million over three years for the work.