APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY
Mar Elias High School leaders have begun significant planning to implement this technology upgrade. Equipment purchases will include instruments for taking scientific measurements and computers for analyzing results or teaching electronics disciplines. Items to be provided also include a refrigerator for perishables, and air conditioners and lab curtains in a climate where temperatures frequently reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The result will be biotechnology, physics, and computer labs with state-of-the-art equipment, furnished presentation rooms with SMART board and multi-functional sound systems, and a fully equipped teacher's resource room.
With new equipment and lab capabilities, Mar Elias High School will become a resource for schools throughout northern Israel. Students from regional high schools and younger students in Mar Elias's sister elementary school will benefit through visits to the improved labs.
An ongoing teacher training program offered through Mar Elias High School, 'The Professionalization of Teachers,' will also use the new computer labs and SMART board presentation systems. With upgraded technological training, the 175 mathematics teachers in this program will take better teaching into government-sponsored schools for Arabs throughout Israel.
IMPLEMENTATION, TIMELINE, AND DELIVERABLES
Two committees at Mar Elias High School will oversee implementation. The first will map and pilot the project. The second will oversee purchases and installation of equipment and furnishings. The committees will study the needs together and decide how to run each aspect of this project.
When the grant is confirmed, Mar Elias leaders will seek competitive bids for new equipment and furnishings. New desks, chairs, and tables will be manufactured in the school carpentry shop at below-market cost by Mar Elias employees, providing local jobs.
Timeline: Start October 1, 2010 or as soon as the grant is received. Equipment should become available as contracts are signed, and installation will begin immediately. All projects will be complete by January 31, 2011.
Israel, whose population is 20 percent Israeli Palestinians, has separate public school systems for Arabs and Jews. Historically, schools for Arabs, according to the 2007 Sikkuy Report, have been inferior, with a shortage of classrooms, overcrowding, high dropout rates, and a shortage of teachers.
In 1982, Father Elias Chacour founded Mar Elias High School in Ibillin, Israel, to provide this Arab village and surrounding area with an alternative to low-performing schools. With 1,200 students now enrolled from all over northern Israel, Mar Elias High School consistently scores well above even Jewish schools' averages on Israel's matriculation exams, placing it among the best of all Israeli schools.
Maintaining this excellence, however, is challenging. Israel subsidizes private school teacher salaries, but gives nothing for buildings, curriculum, or teaching resources. In addition, Israel provides lesser teacher-pay subsidies for non-Jewish private schools than for Jewish schools. Modest tuition covers part of educational costs. However, chronic unemployment and underemployment among Arab Israelis means that 65 percent of Mar Elias students need financial assistance. Outside funding is essential to keep the school strong, and most of this extra funding comes from beyond Israel.
A technology upgrade grant from F.I.S.H. Foundation, Inc. will provide essential tools to keep general teaching, and science and math teaching in particular, at the highest level. Without these tools, students can be taught theories but would have no hands-on way to apply knowledge and build practical skills. With new equipment, students will be better prepared to pass Israel's required matriculation exams with high enough scores to earn university entrance. This improvement is critical to students' future success, since Arab Israeli students according to the The Sikkuy Report, fail to earn university admission at a rate twice as high as Jewish students' failure rate.
For a variety of reasons, Mar Elias graduates sometimes wait several years before achieving university admission. Some higher education programs admit only students age 20 and older, to allow for Jewish Israelis' compulsory military service. Since few Arabs serve in the military, Israeli Arab students must wait two to three years after high school for university eligibility, or leave the country to continue their schooling sooner. Finally, some graduates simply enter the workforce without going on to higher education. The F.I.S.H. Foundation, Inc., grant will help graduates achieve better employment because they will have the technological experience needed for jobs in research, analysis, and high-tech fields. They will also have the highly developed problem-solving skills that are vital for future community leaders.
Mar Elias High School emphasizes the values of nonviolence and mutual respect and understanding across religious boundaries. Because the students and faculty include Muslims, Christians, Jews, and Druze, Mar Elias graduates are well equipped to be peace-builders in their communities and in the larger Israeli society.
SEEKING: Media/Marketing Opportunities
MEDIA coverage of implementation of the Mar Elias High School Technology Upgrade could shine a light on longstanding but little-publicized efforts of Israeli Arabs to 'Build Peace on Desktops.' Media focus could also lift up Mar Elias' founder and president, Archbishop Elias Chacour, who is a three-time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize. His commitment to teaching non-violence and building mutual understanding, as well as to academic excellence, continues to shape the school.
MARKETING help would be welcomed to launch a web presence in English and Hebrew for Mar Elias High School. The present school website is only available in Arabic.
OFFERING: Financial Resources
The F.I.S.H. Foundation, Inc., provides grants for specific medical needs, useful educational programs, and spiritually enriching projects. We would be willing to consider grant funding for projects in any of these areas.