The Early History of Perach
PERACH was initiated in November 1972 by Dr. Rony Attar, then a graduate student of computer science at the Weizmann Institute of Science. He then submitted to the Israeli Ministry of Education a plan of harnessing large numbers of university students to a National Service of one-to-one tutorship, in return for a monetary reward linked to their university tuition fee. The project took off in April 1973, when Prof. Haim Harari, then Dean of Graduate School of the Weizmann Institute, became a passionate partner to the implementation of the plan and gave it the name PERACH, which is Hebrew for "Flower" as well as the acronym of "Tutoring Project".
Over the next six years this unique partnership established PERACH as a nation wide enterprise: Rony expanding PERACH from the modest pilot of a dozen of students and scientists at the Weizmann Institute acting as tutors, to all universities in Israel and Haim providing unlimited support, both by establishing the Weizmann Institute as the permanent home of the project and by convincing the Government to accept a gradual adoption of PERACH as a National Enterprise. During those years the project was built on a foundation of three central pillars, all of which remain valid today:
1. The strong link between the volunteer spirit of the student-tutor and the reward and incentive of a scholarship, covering part of the university tuition fee.
2. PERACH focusing mainly on one-to-one tutorship, targeting the underachieving socially disadvantaged children in elementary schools, with a variety of ancillary activities added gradually to this core.
3. Empowering various universities and colleges to provide the administrative backbone for running the project, under national headquarters and a unified system of operations. This ensures that the Head Office at the Weizmann Institute, controlling and coordinating the national activity, is kept as a tiny team, never becoming a significant overhead to the enterprise.
In 1978 Amos Carmeli took over as the National General Manager of the project. Prof Harari has continued, until 2009, as Chairman of the national PERACH council and has been its committed guardian, keeping the enterprise loyal to its original basic formula. He was instrumental in 1982 when a formal link was first established between the tutoring scholarship and a university tuition fee increase. Amos has diversified and expanded the project more than ten-fold, exceeding 25,000 students per annum, while keeping it as an efficient and lean organization. By now, PERACH has directly touched the lives of a million Israelis, tutors and children, achieving public recognition as a national icon, when the project was awarded the prestigious Israel Prize in May 2008.