The Israeli city of Eilat - Toronto's "partnered community" through the Partnership 2000 (P2K) initiative - is being awarded the prestigious Israel Prize for Education.
The annual honour will be presented to Pnina Ziv, head of Eilat's Educational Administration, in Jerusalem later this month by Israel's Minister of Education, Limor Livnat.
The educational system of Eilat currently accommodates more than 9,000 youngsters in eight day-care centres, 67 pre-kindergartens and kindergartens, 10 elementary schools, and four high schools.
Despite numerous government cutbacks, including a reduction in Eilat's education budget, the educational system developed several programs over the past few years thanks to P2K funding. Among them were initiatives enabling Eilat's teachers and students to improve their skills and training outside the classroom.
P2K funds also go toward focused curricula for underachievers, students with special needs, and gifted students.
As a result of these programs, the percentage of students eligible for matriculation diplomas in Eilat has more than doubled, rising from 27% to 60%.
"The true partnership and huge contribution of the Toronto Jewish community has made the operation of unique, significant, and cutting-edge projects possible," says Ziv. "This contribution has enabled Eilat's educational system to take tremendous strides."
"We have many partners in our educational efforts, and the first among them is the Jewish community of Toronto," says the mayor of Eilat, Meir Yitzhak Halevi. "The Toronto community has led the way with its contributions to Eilat's educational system, which has helped to pave the way to achieve this vision. Each and every one of the partners in the educational family of Eilat is a blessed drop in the sea achievement."
Other contributions to Eilat's school system - made through UJA Federation's 2003 Israel Emergency Campaign - funded additional security for kindergartens and schools, first aid courses for school staff and medical equipment for ambulances.