NEW YORK (Jan. 15)
The first year’s experience of the ORT program in Poland among 15, 000 repatriates from the Soviet Union will be reviewed at the national conference of American ORT Federation which takes place this week-end at the Hotel Commodore here. The conference, attended by 500 delegates from various parts of the country, will also discuss new approaches to relieving the economic situation of the Jews in North Africa and Iran and the expansion of vocational training in Israel.
“The decisive question before the conference, ” declared Dr. William Haber, ORT president, “is to face up to the serious threat of a financial deficit in the ORT budget at a time when its services and the demand for them are at an all time high. The conference will have to give first consideration to finding additional funds to permit ORT to meet its obligations to the trade schools in Israel and in other countries. “
In his presidential report, made public today, Dr. Haber said: “The battle for increased productivity is the Number One economic problem of Israel in its second decade; and one of the decisive elements in this battle is the necessity to sharply upgrade skills and render larger portions of the population productive. ” He announced that during the first ten years of ORT activity in Israel, a total of 20, 000 persons received instruction in technical skills at the ORT trade schools. During 1958 alone, more than 7, 500 attended ORT courses in 22 localities.
“Despite an eleven-fold increase in enrollment, ORT has not been able to keep pace with the rising demand for vocational education, especially among the youth of Israel, ” the report noted. Some 1, 200 youngsters were turned away for lack of space at the opening of the current school year. Each year the primary schools graduate larger numbers, many more of whom want to continue their secondary education in a vocational or technical school. Even if the proportion does not increase, the number of trade school applicants is expected to double in the next three years. The problem is to find significant additional funds to permit the Israel program to keep pace with these requirements.