IDF soldiers storm a target during the ground incursion into Gaza.
(photo credit: IDF)
A new program to prepare students from the periphery for elite IDF units just celebrated its first cohort graduating from high school.
The program, called Atidim Stars, is the initiative of Atidim, an Israeli nonprofit that works to bridge the socioeconomic gaps between the periphery and the central region through promotion of excellence and academic education in technological and scientific fields.
Atidim found over the course of its research that the percentage of youth from the periphery serving in elite IDF units was significantly lower than for rest of the population.
One of the primary reasons was not school grades, but personal capabilities.
The Atidim Stars program locates potential candidates by accessing data from the first set of army interviews.
Those candidates are invited to personal interviews with soldiers from the units, and those who pass the interviews enter the Atidim Stars program in 12th grade.
Throughout their last year of high school, the students receive personal guidance aimed at strengthening their self-confidence and self-esteem; are given courses and assessments for self-empowerment; and are exposed to leading universities and faculties. They also receive professional support and training, and meet with key academic figures, all in an effort to train them as future IDF officers.
The 34 students – half boys and half girls – in the first cohort of Atidim Stars come from Arad, Ma’agalim, Kiryat Yam, Beit Jann and other periphery towns across the country.
Now that they have finished high school, they will move on to academic studies and eventually will be drafted into elite IDF units such as Talpiot, Psagot and Havatzalot.
“This is the first pilot project that reduces the gap between the periphery and the center, and brings the best youth from the geographic edge of the State of Israel to the center of military and personal activity,” said Zeev Hayut, director-general of Atidim.