Human talent is Israel’s most important resource. We take pride in our scientists and entrepreneurs who successfully built, and continue to build, a small “start-up nation” and a striving economy in a very difficult region and against all odds. For a country under a continuous security threat and with demanding military needs, staying the course with education, research and development is a remarkable achievement. However, in the recent couple of decades, our low education performance at k-12 levels, and the widening educational gaps between different communities, are a cause for concern.
This emerging problem has alarmed the public, in fear that our startup nation in now at risk. Reports warned that Israel’s education must change course, so that it will not shake the economy and affect the resilience of an already highly fragmented society. Policy makers, researchers and commentators have raised questions, such as how could Israel infuse its drying pipeline of talent, how should it enhance its innovative and entrepreneurial culture, what must we do in order to expand the circle of excellence to the social and geographic peripheries, and how should the education system reorganize accordingly?
The Trump Foundation, since its inception in 2011, is highly focused to address this issue. We are concentrating on one significant element in the talent pipeline, which is the teaching and learning of advanced mathematics and science at high school. Other institutions are tackling the problem in additional ways from cradle to career, including: early childhood education, parental support, basic skills, laboratory equipment, enrichment programs, motivation workshops, presentation and team work skills, competitions and challenges, university training and labor marked preparation.
As part of this encompassing effort, the Lautman Foundation (through its partner Tafnit) asked us to join hands in preparing an international education conference, which will explore the wide ranged issue in depth, in order to encourage alignment and collaboration. The title of the conference will be: ‘A Startup Nation at Risk’ and it will address the question: ‘How should Israel preserve and expand its human capital’s knowledge, skills and character traits, to successfully compete and prosper in a global world?’
The plan is solicit the advice of GELP (Global Education Leaders’ Partnership), which specializes in such conferences and brings in a worldwide professional network and perspective. Towards the conference, comparative data will be collected and background papers will be prepared and disseminated to the participants and the public. The 3-day conference will be held in Israel in March 2019 with approximately 100 participants, including 50 guests from abroad, and will be broadcasted via media and social networks. Following the conference, a policy paper with insights and recommendations will be prepared and published.
* The text presented above shows the grant as approved by the Foundation Board / Grant 305