Against the backdrop of the Coronavirus crisis and the challenges of distance learning at home, the Merage Foundation and the Rashi Foundation launched an initiative to provide computers to needy families, children and youth in residential care and special-needs people in Israel's southern region, at a cost totaling more than NIS 560,000. The computers will be given to families living in poverty, risk and neglect, and with no home computers available.
" There is clearly a crucial need to enable those who can’t afford a computer to gain access to education. I believe that every student we connect to online learning will use it as an opportunity to develop and progress, to integrate into society and even to contribute back to it," said Nicole Hod Stroh, CEO of the Merage Foundation.
"Tens of thousands of Israeli families living in poverty, at-risk youth, and needy populations have difficulty coping with economic reality even today, and increasingly in a state of isolation and closure," said Michal Cohen, CEO of the Rashi Foundation. "Providing a first computer for families who have not a single technological device, not only to reduce social gaps but also equip and prepare today's children for tomorrow's world of employment."
The Merage Israel Foundation is operating on several levels during this period, in order to continue to provide support to communities with which it is also working. The Foundation promotes its strategic plan for regional economic development in the Negev following the Corona crisis. In addition, clubs of women who have made aliyah from Iran are having online meetings to discuss female empowerment, time management, personal development and more. The Wings program for lone soldiers is raising funds from the public in order to support the soldiers in all areas of life. The Connected to Life program, which helps senior citizens gain access to cellular technology, is engaging high school students and participants of pre-army programs who are at home to communicate with the elderly through the cellphone.
During this period, the Rashi Foundation is leading extensive fundraising campaigns, focusing on the acquisition of computers and the acquisition of learning skills among children in needy families. In addition, the foundation promotes a variety of social initiatives, including providing online solutions for participants in education and welfare programs, alongside additional needs and services at the national level. From the social effort, the joint venture with the Merage Foundation to purchase computers alongside continued social support as part of welfare programs, to families living in the south of the country.
Today, in light of the Coronvirus crisis and the need to maintain remoteness and domestic closure, parents and children in welfare families cannot come into regular contact with their caregivers and social workers. Bringing a computer into the family home can preserve some therapeutic routine and allow this meeting to take place. The families are suffering from increasing distress during this period, due to the lack of the ability to receive support and care - especially during a crisis of this magnitude.
Alongside the social accompaniment, the Corona virus has brought the education and higher education system to produce an online learning environment. Education services that have become available online only are not accessible to families in need in the absence of home computers. The digital divide in the current reality is further exacerbating the inequality between the center and the periphery, between Jewish students and non-Jewish students, and between high socioeconomic groups and disadvantaged groups in Israeli society.