YOUniversities and Centres of Excellence

In 2012, World ORT Kadima Mada, in cooperation with the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and Galilee, established five educational centers in Israel’s geographic and socio-economic periphery. These centers give Israeli youth who live far from the economic, cultural and academic center of the country access to the world of cutting-edge science and technology. The young people participate in hands-on courses on topics such as aerospace, applied physics, forensics, architecture, food engineering and robotics. Taking part in such courses helps young people to establish connections with academia and hi-tech industry in the area, with the ultimate aim of inspiring them to consider a future career in science and technolo

YOUniversity: Kiryat Gat

The city of Kiryat Gat is in the south of Israel and has approximately 48,000 residents, of which about 30% are immigrants. The city is ranked 4 out of 10 on the socio-economic scale with an unemployment rate higher than the national average. The inhabitants of the city are young, with 30% of the population aged 17 or below. Kiryat Gat is home to approximately 10,500 students in its 26 elementary schools and secondary schools.

The YOUniversity Center in Kiryat Gat takes place in the municipality community center, the Eshkol Paiz, which is within a school. It has been extremely successful and the number of students participating in its activities has more than doubled since it began, rising from 136 to 360 currently. There are currently 16 courses on offer run by 18 activity leaders. These include:

Architecture, Astronomy, Young Engineering, Photography & Video editing, PC Technicians, Space, Photography and Video, Robotics, Entrepreneurship, Veterinary, Medicinal Plants, Design, Fashion

YOUniversity: Dimona

Dimona is a city in southern Israel, established in 1955 in close proximity to the famous Israeli Nuclear Research Park. The city has around 33,000 inhabitants and is the third largest city in the Negev. Dimona’s population is 90% Israeli-born; the remaining 10% consists of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, Ethiopia and India. Its socio-economic status is ranked a low 4 out of a possible 10. Dimona has 12 elementary schools and 4 secondary schools.

The YOUniversity Center in Dimona takes place in the Eshkol Paiz community center and has succeeded in tripling the number of students participating in its activities from 250 to 682 this year. There are currently seven courses run by 20 activity leaders. They include FLL Robotics, combative robotics, science tasters, fashion, CSI forensics, 3D printing, Young Doctors, Architecture, Space, and Photography.

YOUniversity: Safed

Safed is known world over as a mystical city and the “City of Kabbalah”. It sits 900 meters above sea level in the north of Israel. Safed is home to approximately 28,000 residents, almost half of whom are strictly Orthodox, as well as many new immigrants from all over the world. Forty-three percent of the population is below the age of 19 and the city is ranked only 3 out of 10 on the socio-economic scale. Safed has 17 elementary schools serving almost 4,000 students and 13 secondary schools with approximately 2,300 students.

The YOUniversity Center in Safed has over 200 students. Courses also take place on-site in elementary schools as well as in the Eshkol Paiz community center to make access easier for some of the needier students who might not be able to get to the center.

Amongst he course offered are: Robotics, Film and Television, Battling Robots, Physics, Young Ambassadors, Space and Astronomy, Medicinal Plants.

YOUniversity: Nahariya

Nahariya is a coastal city in the north of Israel, close to the border with Lebanon and has a population of approximately 51,000. The city is ranked 6 on a socio-economic level out of a possible 10. Nahariya has 19 schools and approximately 75,000 students, with a 65% matriculation pass rate, slightly higher than the national average.

The YOUniversity Center in Nahariya takes place in the municipality’s community center – and the number of students has almost doubled since the beginning, 350 to almost 700.

These are some of the 19 courses on offer. They are run by around 30 activity leaders: Young Doctors, Architecture, Space, Photography and Video, Robotics, Physics, Fashion, Technical PC, Monitoring Apps, a taste of Science, Entrepreneurship, 3D Printing, Marine Sciences, Stills photography, Videography, Young Ambassadors, Youth mentoring (Math), Competitive robotics.

There are also courses for children with special needs: Photography course for autistic children, integration of children in special education classes with other students who act as "personal tutors”, Photography Exhibition at the Municipal Gallery.

YOUniversity: Nazareth

The city of Nazareth is located on the southern tip of the Galilee and is the largest Arab city in Israel, home to around 65,500 residents, a third of which are 18 years old or younger. Around 70% of the population is Muslim and 30% is Christian Arab. Nazareth is home to 50 schools and approximately 22,000 students and is ranked by the Israeli Government as 4 out of 10 on the socio-economic scale.

The YOUniversity Center in Nazareth has been extremely successful and the number of students participating in its activities has increased from 205 to 350. Activities take place in both the Eshkol Paiz community center as well as in one of the schools. The number of courses has doubled from 8 to 16 and are run by 17 activity leaders. The courses on offer this year include:

3D printing, Technical PC, Medicinal Plants, Architecture, Space, Photography, Robotics, Forensics CSI, Fashion, Chemistry, Entrepreneurship, English

YOUniversity in Jerusalem – ‘Torat Haim’ program

The YOUniversity Center in Jerusalem is a ground-breaking program which aims to reduce this education gap by providing 4th to 6th grade Haredi youth with educational enrichment and access to creative, hands-on experiential learning, focusing on science and technology. In each lesson students build a product related to the theme of the lesson and take it home.

The program focuses on increasing practical and general knowledge and on the development of critical and independent thinking skills. However, this unique program, developed by World ORT Kadima Mada, differs from the other YOUniversity centers in that it uses traditional Jewish issues and laws in the Gemara to introduce concepts of science and technology such as Water, Wind, Sun, Moon, Electricity and Energy. The program takes place during the school day and the initial phase of the project reached over 500 students and 59 teachers in six Talmud Torah Centers. The academic year started with approximately 800 students in eight Talmud Torah Centers.

The Talmud Torah teachers (Melamedim) are introduced for the first time to science and technology subjects as well as to pedagogical methods of how to teach these subjects – which in itself has a wider impact on the pedagogical methods of these teachers, which currently only focus on Torah studies. Each lesson is taught by the teacher (Melamed) and assisted by an ultra-Orthodox professional who has graduated with a science and technology related degree.

This life-changing program was established in partnership with the Jerusalem Municipality, which is committed to financing 50% in matching funds for this center. The education department in Jerusalem municipality is very involved in the project's status and development.

YOUniversity in East Jerusalem – Serving the Arab Sector

The YOUniversity Center of Excellence in Beit Hanina, East Jerusalem was established in early 2014 in full cooperation between World ORT Kadima Mada and the Municipality of Jerusalem. Beit Hanina is the largest Arab neighborhood of Jerusalem, with 34,000 residents. It is located along the Nablus road leading to Ramallah.

The YOUniversity: Centre of Excellence is a pioneering project in this community, providing Arab girls and boys with their first after-school activities in science and technology; a unique opportunity for them to learn about these subjects in an informal, experiential and fun learning environment.

Activities take place in one of the municipality girls’ schools in the area. The center has been equipped by World ORT with the state of the art labs and technological facilities, including a 3D printer, sewing machines, advanced photography and videography equipment, a planetarium, chemistry and physics labs and more.

The yearly courses take place in after school hours. Each class meets once a week for two hours.

In its first year, the center ran from February to June 2014 and catered to 230 girls who participated in a range of extra-curricular scientific and technological courses.

The current academic year commenced with 280 children and courses this year are now offered to both boys and girls.

Currently there are 14 courses on offer which include: medicinal plants, video, photography, robotics, physics, forensics, scientific research, English, fashion, computer technician, building applications, genetics, public health, and first aid.

This YOUniversity Centre of Excellence is the only center that provides courses for gifted children, and has the following courses planned for them: Physics in cooperation with the Science Museum, Summer Camps, visit to the children’s ward and to cancer patients in hospitals in East Jerusalem, FLL (FIRST LEGO League) participation in national robotics competitions.