On of the eve of his retirement in 1963, Prime Minister David Ben Gurion had two dreams for Israel — to change the electoral system and to “revolutionize the country’s secondary education so that every child could receive a free high school education”. As a direct result, the Israeli Ministry of Education established the Society for Advancement of Education (SAE) to help realize Ben Gurion’s dream of free high school education for all.
The impetus for this decision was the dearth of high schools in Israel’s development towns and agricultural settlements in the country’s peripheries. Large numbers of capable teens were left with no option but to abandon schooling by eighth grade and join the workforce. SAE was mandated with building educational residences (modeled on boarding schools in the USA and Europe) that would attract strong and capable students whose intellectual advancement was being hampered by the great distances between their homes and quality schools in Jerusalem and central Israel.
SAE’s goal was not just to assist with integration, produce a skilled workforce, or committed soldiers for the IDF, but rather to break the cycle of generational poverty by equipping capable youth to assume leadership positions in the core institutions which bolster Israeli society – academia, business, civil society, culture, diplomacy, and in the IDF.
With the passing of legislation in 1980, SAE became an independent, registered non-profit organization. By this time, SAE had successfully established five boarding schools – two of which included adjoining high schools.