(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

The Knesset Finance Committee today (Monday), 10 March 2008, approved a plan to reinforce schools in Sderot and the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip. The plan, which has been led by Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Director-General Ra’anan Dinur, allocates NIS 348 million in order to build 12 schools that will be reinforced against rocket fire, and in order to improve existing protection at another eight schools in the area.

In the second half of 2007, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and PMO Dir.-Gen. Dinur decided to allocate NIS 291 million to build 12 new, reinforced schools for the students of Sderot and the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip and to allocate an additional NIS 57 to improve existing protection at eight additional schools, and to modify existing schools until the new ones are constructed.

The budget that was approved includes construction and reinforcement components, as well as the upgrading of schools to meet the Education Ministry’s latest standards. In the framework of the project, over NIS 60 million has been budgeted for the upgrading of schools, including new teaching and learning technologies, new pedagogic methods and the improvement of facilities as befit 21st century schools.

The project to reinforce schools in Sderot and the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip began in 2005, following the implementation of the Disengagement Plan, with the reinforcement of kindergartens against rocket fire. Afterwards, the Defense Ministry and IDF Home Front Command began to reinforce schools with the protected spaces method. Hundreds of millions of shekels were allocated to reinforcing kindergartens and schools in Sderot and the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip in 2005-2007.

PMO Dir.-Gen. Dinur said that the project to reinforce schools in Sderot and the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip is designed to increase residents’ sense of security and fortitude."The investment is not just for reinforcement but for upgrading the local education system as part of a long-range plan to strengthening the area and fostering growth," he said.