Give a Kid a Big Hand Up, It Just Takes a Little Mouse

19 May

By Jackie Frankel

Israel has become known as the “Start-Up Nation,” producing more start-up companies per capita, and companies that are traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange, than any other country in the world outside the US. Israel is a young country, plagued by war, and lacking in natural resources. It is these conditions that have created an environment of unimaginable ingenuity and resourcefulness. Israel is attracting more venture capital funds per capita than the US and Europe. Computers, security, communications, medical devices, clean-tech and biotech are booming in the face of adversity in this eclectic, entrepreneurial society. Whether it is the discipline, pressure and intensity of Israeli army service or the haggling of Middle Eastern culture, somehow Israelis are at the lead of the high-tech race, forging successes based on their resilience and innovative spirit.

Business leaders are flocking to Israel to tour the “Start-Up Nation,” learn from its business leaders and bring a bit of the Holy Land’s economic miracle back home. But brewing behind this high-tech powerhouse’s front door are 1,774,800 citizens living in poverty. The gap between the rich and the poor in Israel is also growing rapidly as the middle class disappears. What will this miracle nation do in the face of this increasing stratification of the “haves” and “have-nots?”

The formal Computer Education Program at Jaffa Dalet is designed to address the need for computer literacy within the impoverished Jaffa community.  The program, which is instructed by IT professionals, will teach: Basic Computer Applications such as World, Excel, Powerpoint, and Internet browsers; Educational Programs in which the school curriculum is supplemented through programs that teach Math, Reading Comprehension, Languages, and Science via the computer, and the basic fundamentals behind Website Building.

The computer program will operate at the Jaffa Dalet After-school Activity Center, which caters to underprivileged children from the impoverished neighborhood of Jaffa Dalet, a community within the greater Jaffa municipality and home to a large number of Ethiopian immigrants. There are three other Jaffa Institute sites that run similar programs for disadvantaged children from other neighborhoods within our service area.

The staff of the Jaffa Institute has observed that shelter and tutoring are simply not enough to meet the needs of the children who attend our After-school Activity Centers. We have observed that the majority of families in Jaffa cannot afford a home computer, Internet service, or basic software. Thus, thousands of children are unable to use the tools of modern technology to keep up with their peers academically and they are therefore put at a disadvantage. This is an especially staggering blow to Ethiopian immigrants, many of who do not have computers in their homes, and whose parents are often illiterate and unfamiliar with computer technology.  The over-populated, under-funded classrooms in the public school system do not have the resources to provide such children with a formal computer education. It became apparent that it was essential to offer this to these children, who would otherwise have limited access to modern IT technology.

The course will be offered for three hours each week over forty weeks, with students divided into three groups based on their age. Outside of formal class time, the children will have access to the computer facilities so they can continue to learn, explore and play during their recreation time.

Many poor kids drop out of school at young ages in order to feed themselves, since they see few future rewards for even bothering to finish high school.

The government needs to adopt policies and make systemic changes and budget priority adjustments to prevent an economic crisis, while simultaneously attempting to hold a coalition government in place.

We are at breaking point. The need for serious action by the government to reduce poverty is great and, with our nation’s rapid population growth, the time for this is now.

Do you want to help children learn how to enter the biggest market of Israel? Make the investment in your business, future workers and society.

Jackie Frankel is a Development Associate and the Youth 4 Youth Fundraising Coordinator for The Jaffa Institute, a private, non-profit organization that provides after-school programming and a host of other social services to thousands of severely disadvantaged children and their families in the greater Tel Aviv-Jaffa area of Israel.

One Response to “Give a Kid a Big Hand Up, It Just Takes a Little Mouse”

  1. midnightrabbi August 2, 2011 at 10:44 am #

    Great blog and cause , please read our blog for our sister Organizations
    Bet Shemesh

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