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Canadian Donates Millions to Israel for ‘Smart Classes’

A Canadian Jewish philanthropist’s gift of more than $4 million enables children in the north and south to learn in “smart classrooms.”
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 8/16/2010, 6:46 PM / Last Update: 8/17/2010, 9:52 AM

Children in northern and southern Israel will be learning in “smart classrooms” thanks to gifts totaling more than $4 million from Canadian philanthropist Seymour Schulich.

Schulich, a Toronto businessman, has topped off an earlier $2.1 donation for smart classrooms in northern Israel with a $2.2 million gift for Eilat and Eilot. The United Jewish Appeal (UJA) Federation of Greater Toronto is chipping in with $1 million for the project, administered by the ORT organization, according to the Canadian Jewish News. ORT is a non-governmental organization that provides training and education in more than 100 countries.

“Smart classrooms” use interactive whiteboards connected with the teacher’s computer and an LCD projector, a laser printer and laptops using a wireless network, all of which will be used in the coming school year for 206 classes in 40 schools in 13 northern communities. The equipment for the Eilat-Eilot schools is planned to be in use by 2012.

The classrooms will be able to access World ORT’s videoconferencing network with virtual links to schools in several countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Italy, Argentina, Mexico, Uruguay and France.

“Schulich sees this project as a ‘game-changer’ in terms of the delivery of education for the vital communities situated on the geographic and economic frontiers of Israel,” said federation CEO and president Ted Sokolsky, quoted by CJN.

World ORT director general and CEO Robert Singer said, “The success of the initiative became apparent so quickly that World ORT and the Israeli government discussed taking the project on to the next step – to reach out to new regions and to broaden access to academic advancement by expanding the benefits to parents and entire communities."

Schulich previously has donated to Technion University, located in Haifa, and the Canadian York and Western Ontario universities.