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Ort Schools Emphasizing Computers Robotics and Jewish Education

ORT (Organization for Rehabilitation Through Training) is expanding computer and robotics training courses at ORT schools in Israel, the United States. Latin America, India and Morocco in line with its emphasis on high technology training to prepare graduates of ORT schools for the workplace of the 1990’s.

This development was highlighted in a report by American ORT Federation president Alvin Gray which will be presented at the organization’s national conference banquet Saturday night.

During the three-day conference which begins tomorrow some 500 delegates from American Men’s ORT groups from throughout the country will discuss new directions to be taken by ORT during the closing decades of the 20th century in its global network of 800 schools and training centers which serve some 112,000 students, 78,000 in Israel alone.

According to a recent World ORT Union technical department study, 80 percent of all jobs in the 1990’s will require computer skills, and 20 million new jobs in high technology areas will be created. In his report, Gray, who will complete the first of his four-year term in office at the national conference, pointed out that ORT is also placing an increased emphasis on Jewish education in schools throughout the ORT global network.

Gray noted that, “While the subjects that ORT teaches have changed in ORT’s 104-year history, the philosophy behind that training has not varied since the first ORT school taught carpentry skills to the first ORT student in a cabinet-making class over a century ago in Russia. The goal is the same today as it was then: training people for decent, productive lives ORT will continue to pursue and to accomplish that goal.”

NEW ORT SCHOOLS IN ISRAEL AND THE U.S.

According to Gray, within the next three years, ORT plans to open an ORT International Technical High School in Israel’s Region 2000 development area at Carmiel; to establish a Los Angeles ORT Technical Institute in the U.S.; and to expand the ORT Technical High School in Marseilles, France.

The ORT International School, a two-year technical high school, will be named for the late Max Braude, director-general of the World ORT Union for some 30 years, and will be the first ORT school in the world to attract Jewish students from the diaspora, who will study together with Israeli youngsters.

The Municipality of Carmiel has set aside some 100 acres for the school, including space for the dormitories. The ORT International School will become an integral part of Israel’s Development Region 2000 in the western Galilee.

The new ORT Technical Institute in Los Angeles will provide high-level technical training to the Jewish community of that city and will incorporate elements of the other two ORT projects in the U.S., the Bramson ORT Technical Institue in New York and the ORT computer literacy project in operation at the Jewish High School of South Florida in Miami.

The decision to expand the ORT school in Marseilles comes in response to requests from ORT France to meet the needs of the North African Jewish community, 150,000 of whom have settled in southern France and among whom ORT schools have an excellent reputation. ORT France currently has to turn away thousands of students who seek admission each year, due to lack of space.

Computer training has become an integral part of ORT schools throughout the world. Robotics courses, in which students build and learn to operate their own robots, are already part of the curriculum at ORT schools in Israel and the U.S. and is planned for inclusion as a subject of study at ORT operations in other countries as well.

“High technology creates a demand for highly trained technicians and engineers. That is where ORT training comes in,” notes Gray.

In Israel, where technological proficiency is a matter of survival, 20 percent of the nation’s labor force is involved in high technology, including 30,000 scientists and engineers and 185,000 skilled technical workers. In contrast, only 14 percent of the work force of the United States and only 10 percent of the work force in West Germany are involved in these fields.

In France, where ORT operates a network of eight schools serving 8,500 students, computers and robotics and other high technology fields are an integral part of the ORT curriculum.

In Latin America ORT schools have also recognized the importance of high-tech training with computer centers serving 8,500 ORT students in Argentina, 2,200 in Brazil, 1,300 in Chile, and 3,000 in Uruguay.

ORT schools serving 650 students in India and 1,000 in Morocco also provide computer training in their curricula.

In addition to training in high technology fields, ORT continues to teach basic trades such as welding, sewing and auto mechanics at ORT schools throughout the ORT network.

JEWISH EDUCATION EMPHASIZED

“While a sound technical education is essential,” Gray says, “it can never be enough if that is all the students at ORT schools receive. New Jewish education programs are being developed by the World ORT Union to enhance the teaching of Jewish education to students at ORT schools. It would be a tragedy, if, three or four decades from now, ORT schools were producing competent technicians who knew everything there is to know about sophisticated technologies but nothing at all about their Jewish heritage. After all, the whole point of ORT is Jewish survival.”

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