NEW YORK (Sep. 23)
More than 30,000 students are expected to enroll in vocational schools of ORT, the Organization for Rehabilitation through Training, during the school year now beginning, according to a report today by Dr. William Haber, president of the American ORT Federation. ORT programs are located in 20 countries, chiefly in North Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
Dr. Haber, who has just returned from a survey of ORT activities in Israel, Iran, Poland and Switzerland, made his report to a meeting of the executive committee of his organization at Hotel Commodore. The Polish authorities, which invited ORT to establish training programs for Jewish repatriates, have thus far been cooperative, Dr. Haber stated. They have placed regular trade school facilities at ORT’s disposal. During the nine months of its activities in Poland, ORT has set up classes for 2, 000 persons in 18 cities.
Dr. Haber reported that vocational education in Israel was probably one of the fastest growing school programs in the world. In the ORT schools alone enrollment is increasing by one-third annually. Nevertheless, Israeli trade schools are not keeping up with the groundswell of youth seeking admission, nor with the requirements of industry for a steadily larger flow of trained personnel.
A two-front educational debate is shaping up in Israel, which could have far-reaching effects socially and economically, Dr. Haber told the committee. On the one hand is the effort by educators to raise school standards. On the other, is the threat that such standards tend to bar large numbers of youth, especially those from Oriental and North African immigrant families, who are most in need of social integration.
Dr. Haber urged a serious search for flexible educational forms and a far greater allocation of resources to all secondary education in Israel. A special program of vocational instruction for immigrant youngsters, tied-in to the state primary school system instituted by ORT a few weeks ago, has proven successful. Dr. Haber pointed to the new Syngalowski Vocational Center at Tel Aviv, built by Women’s American ORT, in which the first classes are now opening as a “model for the future.” He described it as “a new standard” for trade schools in Israel. It is the largest vocational school in the country.
George J. Mintzer, committee chairman, who presided at the meeting, announced that a bequest of $25,000 had been received from the estate of the noted philanthropist and art collector, Wilhelm Weinberg. The gift will be used to purchase premises for an ORT school in Rome, Italy.