By: Laura Kindler
Two new immigrants from Ethiopia have won a prestigious competition which was held in Bat Yam, one of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto’s three Israeli partnership regions.
The competition was run by Bat Yam’s Excellence Center, which provides supplementary programming for gifted elementary school students.
It was won by Makonen Mafa and Asia Lekonesh, both sixth graders at the Harel elementary school.
The competition was comprised of four stations – physics, jet engines, word puzzles and architecture – all subjects that the children had studied throughout the year.
The Excellence Center is attended by 340 students, including 48 immigrants from Ethiopia.
Batya Chukol, a member of staff at the Excellence Center who herself immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia at the age of three, commented: “This year, for the first time, a significant number of Ethiopian-Israeli children attend the centre, which is helping to further their integration and educational advancement.”
Mafa’s mother, Kasia, was thrilled with her daughter’s success. “The Excellence Centre is giving her the opportunity to make her dreams come true,” said the proud mom. “The knowledge and experience she is gaining will serve her well in the future.”
The competition was attended by Bat Yam Deputy Mayor Esther Peron, who holds the city’s education portfolio. She opened her address by saying, “The city’s logo – “Bat Yam: Transforming and Exciting” — should be changed to “Bat Yam: Transforming, Exciting and Excelling”.
“The teachers here are truly gifted,” she continued, “and bring out the same gift of excellence in their students. With Toronto’s help, Bat Yam is making equal opportunity education a reality for its residents. The motivation of the participants at the Excellence Center has increased ten-fold, and even the sky does not limit their new-found horizons. Ten years from now, these children are likely to be recruited by the top IDF units, universities and industries.”
UJA Federation of Greater Toronto supports various programs in Bat Yam – a working-class town south of Tel Aviv – designed to strengthen educational achievements, especially among Ethiopian immigrants.
By: Laura Kindler