(photo credit: KFIR BOLUTIN)
Twelve teenage participants in the Magshimim national cyber education initiative have been chosen as “Cyber Ambassadors” on behalf of the Foreign Ministry.
“When Israel experiences continuous cyber-attacks against military and civilian targets, developing human capital in this field is clearly crucial for the country’s security and its economic growth,” Lt.-Gen.
(res.) Gabi Ashkenazi, chairman of the Rashi Foundation and former IDF chief of staff, said on Tuesday.
“Until now, young people from the periphery were under-represented in the IDF’s elite technological units and in the hi-tech industry; this is why the Rashi Foundation has decided to invest in this field to realize their untapped potential,” he said.
The announcement was made at the CyberTech 2015 Conference in Tel Aviv, during a session on the next generation of cyber education.
The Magshimim program was launched five years ago as a collaborative project by the Rashi Foundation and the Defense Ministry to increase the number of youth from the periphery who qualify for service in the IDF’s elite technological units and ultimately join the hi-tech industry.
Additional partners of the initiative include the Prime Minister’s Office, the National Lottery Fund, and other philanthropies such as the Adelis Foundation, Keren Daniel and the Schulich Foundation.
The young ambassadors are all “excellent students” who are fluent in English, have good public speaking skills, and knowledge in cyber security.
The students were presented with nomination certificates by Ashkenazi; Iddo Moed, cyber security coordinator in the Foreign Ministry; and Lt.-Col. Sagy Bar, head of human capital development in the IDF Cyber Force.
In the panel discussion, Ashkenazi announced the plan to scale up the program, saying that based on an agreement signed between the Rashi Foundation and the Defense Ministry, Magshimim will see a “quantum leap” in the number of students over the next five years.
The expansion of the cyber initiative includes extension to younger grades through the preparatory program Nitzanei Magshimim.
This expansion, which was launched last month, is geared toward students in junior high school (eighth and ninth grades) and offers after-school enrichment and introduction to computer technology with the goal of encouraging them to apply to the Magshimim program.
The total number of participants in the two cyber programs is expected to grow from a few hundred to some 4,800 students.