MK Meir Sheetrit 311 Ariel.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Knesset Science and Technology Committee chairman Meir Sheetrit called on the
government to enable everyone to have Internet access and regard the Web as a
In a Monday session on reducing the “digital
gap,” Sheetrit advocated the expansion of the Lehava Project with its network of
centers providing online computers so that residents can learn about and use the
Experts noted that Internet use varied greatly depending on
one’s nationality, income, educational level, religiosity, gender and place of
residence. Lehava was meant to teach people in the lower socioeconomic groups
how to access the Web.
But while Minister Michael Eitan was chosen to
make the government more accessible to the public, especially through online
services, many individuals are unable to take advantage of this because they
have no online computer or knowledge of how to use one, said Tal Haramati, a
senior deputy to the accountant-general in the Treasury.
Yossi Tubol said the Treasury decided to double the state’s investment in the
project in the coming year to NIS 26 million.
There are currently 14
Lehava centers, from Safed in the North to Beersheba in the South, each with at
least 40 PCs, a team of four counsellors and a director. Another 17 such centers
are expected to open in 2011.
Central Bureau of Statistics data on the
socioeconomic level of communities are used to determine where new centers
should be located, said Tubol.
But Sheetrit noted that many voluntary
organizations had set up their own Internet centers in various towns and cities,
causing a waste of resources.
“Lehava should reach communities that have
no such centers,” the MK asserted.
Eitan said Lehava must be independent
and not have to look for funding to annual allocations.
Ariel Mayor Ron
Nahman said preference should be given to Internet centers in existing schools
for teaching children as well as their parents. Ronni Dayan of the Education
Ministry stated that negotiations are now being carried out between it and the
Treasury to turn schools into Lehava centers in the afternoons and
Israel Employment Service director Yossi Farhi said that at
least 100,000 of the 500,000 people who come to its centers are unable to
operate a computer, while most of those who were trained on PCs found work much
“Computer education should be part of the educational
system and not a complementary project,” he said. “The computer today is a tool