From its modest roots as a new vocational education group, ORT first began helping Russian Jews out of poverty back in 1880. Who could possibly imagine the skills that would be needed to succeed today, in the workplace of the 2020s?
To provide these skills, ORT has built upon its job-training for employability origins to offer a full technology-rich education for thousands of young people in Israel, the former Soviet Union, and around the world. And much like the Jews of 1880, many are from disadvantaged backgrounds or resource-poor communities.
Today’s schoolchildren will face a life of dizzying change. To make sure they are prepared, ORT is constantly working to update and improve the educational experience we provide, develop teacher skills and nurture potential leaders throughout our network.
If one good thing has emerged from the Covid pandemic, it’s the increasing sophistication of long-distance learning. Educators at ORT are collaborating with teachers and volunteers worldwide to design safe and stimulating new student activities.
A curious young mind cannot be locked down, and ORT students have found new ways to excel as projects in socially responsible entrepreneurship, innovation and product development complement our strong foundation in STEM — science, technology, engineering and math.
As hopes grow for a return to more face-to-face activities, plans are also under way to:
Develop a broad lineup of “taster courses,”quick online units encourage young people to explore subjects that might spark deeper interest in advancing in fields in industries that offer the promise of future employment. Designed for independent or group study, taster subjects might range from biotech and cyber security to agriculture and artificial intelligence.
— Strengthen benchmarking standards, to emphasize accountability and encourage high performance goals for teachers and students.
— Further expand our network of virtual volunteers, linking students and teachers alike with a wide range of resourceful and knowledgeable pros in an array of fields.
ORT’s goal is to bridge the gap between aptitude and opportunity, and to fulfill this goal we constantly strive to meet our students’ fast-changing needs — providing vital resources and experiences they might otherwise never get to enjoy
Our founders derived ORT’s initials from a long Russian phrase roughly meaning vocational education. But today’s driving focus at ORT K-12 schools in more than 30 countries — plus our respected universities in Mexico and Uruguay — is on cutting-edge technology that will shape tomorrow’s world.
Our students in Dimona, Israel, have helped turn a desert town into a robotics hub. Girls and boys from several ORT schools excelled in an Israeli “smart cars” design event. At our newly renovated Kfar Silver Youth Village, some of Israel’s most at-risk youth tackle a science-focused curriculum with advanced studies in subjects such as chemistry and mathematics — along with farming and other enriching activities that also address their emotional needs.
“My parents are so proud of how far I’ve come,“ says Eden, a teen-aged Ethiopian girl whose enthusiasm for math has blossomed at the school. “Kfar Silver gives me the tools I need to succeed because my teachers believe in me.”
And when 11th graders at our Moscow Technology School won a nationwide rocket design competition, World ORT Director General and CEO Dan Green congratulated them on this “launchpad to further successes.”
Robots, cybersecurity, perhaps an abstract formula that unlocks some universal mystery — whatever tomorrow’s world requires, ORT graduates will come well equipped with the newest in-demand skills, and the wider perspective so important to a life of meaning.