The company Intel announced it’s intention to invest five million dollars (NIS 20 million) into scientific, technological, engineering and mathematical education in Israeli high schools over the next four years.

The main part of the amount will be put into the Education Ministry’s goal to increase the number of high school students graduating with scientific and technological diplomas from today’s 6.5 percent to 14 percent, a target that the ministry itself has planned to fund with NIS 50 million a year over the four-year period.

The initiative, which was announced by Intel’s CEO Paul Ottelini as he visited the country last week, will start in 25 schools of southern Israeli cities such as Kiryat Gat, Ashkelon, Beersheva, Netivot, Ashdod and even the Bedouin village of Hura, next to Beersheva.

Representatives of Intel, along with the schools’ educators, will accompany the students throughout their six years of studies in junior high and high school to inspire them to take the scientific and technological track by making use of social media, videos and virtual games. The program also includes visits to Intel’s facilities in Israel to expose students to the high-tech environment.

"Israel has long been at the forefront of technological innovation worldwide," Otellini said, "Some of our most sophisticated engineering is made in Israel.”

“As the largest private employer in Israel, we want to invest wisely and preserve the economic strength of the country. Improving scientific and technological skills of Israeli students is essential to innovation and competitiveness of the state,” he continued.

As the project was made public on Thursday, Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar pointed out that technical education has been on top of his agenda since he took office in 2009 which is also why he had increased it’s designated budget from NIS 38 million to NIS 450 million.

“Strengthening excellence in education in general and in science and technology in particular, establishes the advantage that the State of Israel has compared to the rest of the world,” Sa’ar said.

“Student excellence in Israel is the main growth engine of the country’s society and economy,” he added.

The new program, which will encompass about 4000 Israeli teenagers, is expected to be expanded to 200 schools in the country and attract more high-tech companies to join it. The Ministry of Education and Intel explained the enterprise is aimed at finding a long-term solution to the worsening shortage of engineers in Israel.

The project is the latest addition to Intel’s ongoing investment in education worldwide which already includes many high-schools and higher education programs as well as teaching resources and research initiatives.

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