The Rashi Foundation and the IDF have launched a project to build a new training center for the Intelligence Corps' Unit 8200 candidates in Be'er Sheva. This campus will serve the IDF's goal to create first-class training facilities and to increase the number and quality of the Corps' candidates, and Rashi's goal to advance education in the south and raise the number of pupils from the south who are admitted to the elite Unit 8200.
In November 2005, the Israeli government approved a National Plan to strengthen the Negev region. As part of this plan, it resolved to transfer a number of key IDF army bases from the center of the country to the South. The IDF's elite technological and intelligence units are included in this relocation.
Rashi has decided to focus on helping to establish an educational campus that will serve the Intelligence Corps and the residents of the southern region, and enable a unique meeting-ground of the IDF, the education system and the community of Be'er Sheva. Our decision is made in the knowledge that the role and responsibility of the Intelligence Corps within the IDF is growing, and there is a commensurate need to increase the number of top-quality soldiers serving there.
There is a gross under-representation of southern residents in the Intelligence Corps, reflecting the educational divide that separates the periphery from the center. This disparity is especially evident in Unit 8200, whose work involves the breaking and making of codes and deciphering intelligence data in order to present and analyze Israel's security situation to the military and political decision-makers. The unit accepts only the most able young people, those with outstanding computer, math and science skills, and exceptional facility for languages.
Unit 8200 has a rigorous selection process. IDF scouts visit top-achieving high schools and invite the best pupils to take the tough entrance exams for the pre-military course at the current IDF training centers in Hadera and Netanya. Only a tiny percentage of high school pupils are accepted, and residents of the southern periphery are a minuscule proportion of this number.
The Rashi Foundation has drawn up a plan for a multi-purpose campus to be located on a 7.4 acre plot in the Ramot neighborhood of Be'er Sheva, near Ben-Gurion University. The Ramot Campus will offer students from all over Israel – regardless of their origin or home circumstances – an excellent education and an equal opportunity to step onto a track to success.
The main part of the campus will serve as a Pre-Military Training Center for 18-year olds who have been selected to take the entrance exams for the elite technological unit. The six-month course is solely determined by the IDF. It will accommodate up to 450 post-high-school, pre-enlistment students on a residential basis, and 150 staff; a total of 1,200-1,500 students are expected to take the course annually.
A Community Education Building in a separate area will allow students from Negev high schools to improve their qualifications and increase their chances of being accepted to the Intelligence Corps. Students who have been identified as having the talent and motivation to shoot for the army's elite units will take part in a pedagogic program focusing on math, computers and technology and coordinated with the Intelligence Corps' selection requirements
Screening assessments for the Intelligence Corps may also take place at Ramot Campus in the future, making it easier for southern residents to attend these tests.