The country's future business leaders played host to a delegation of German educators and industry leaders this week as part of an exchange program established by the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry in partnership with the German Education and Research Ministry.
In existence for some 35 years, the program brings business, education and political leaders together from the two countries to participate in a week-long "workshop" where they can exchange ideas and compare policies in various sectors, with this year's theme entitled "Entrepreneurship as Subject in Vocational Education and Training."
"The best part about teaching someone to be an entrepreneur," said Uta-Maria Schneppe, the leader of the German delegation, "is that they give back to others by providing jobs and services and, therefore, it is something that we are looking to encourage more in Germany."
The highlight of the group's week-long stay in Israel, according to Schneppe, has been the visit it paid to the Misgav Elementary School in Givat Haim.
The school is what is called an "Experimental Entrepreneurship," a school where all of the students learn about and are encouraged to think and act like entrepreneurs.
"When we arrived at the school, we were introduced to a classroom full of students working in small groups on entrepreneurial projects to create products that will provide solutions to problems facing children," said Schneppe.
She explained that the children in the school have invented a "dream pillow," which is a pillow filled with various spices that the students have learned about and are known to put one at ease and will, reported the inventors, allow children who have trouble sleeping to fall asleep easily. Schneppe noted that the children are currently looking for investors for their product.
Upon its return to Germany, Schneppe said the group will undertake steps to introduce a similar school to Misgav, as the country currently does not place sufficient emphasis on the benefits of teaching entrepreneurial skills to children.
The group also travelled to the Amal Afula Youth Vocational School, an institution that provides a way back to a school setting for high school drop-outs, while also offering them an opportunity to learn a trade.
Schneppe said the teachers in her delegation are planning to establish ties with the educators in Amal Afula in order for them to discuss and learn from the very different educational systems employed in the two countries.
The delegation's visit wasn't limited to educational ventures, however, as they also attended the MatrixWorld 2007- Beyond Technology Conference, and visited the Technological Incubator Program, under the guidance of the Chief Scientist's Office.
The group's visit was coordinated by the Manpower Training and Development Branch in the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry. A delegation from Israel will travel to Germany in November to participate in the second half of the workshop.