Ort Develops Innovative Programs in Israel

ORT (Organization for Rehabilitation through Training) has developed some innovative programs for certain segments of the population in countries where ORT operates, according to a report by American ORT Federation (AOF) president Alvin Gray, which he will present at the organization’s national conference here on Saturday.

Gray, who will complete his four-year term in office at the conference, cited a series of courses recently developed in Israel available to the police force, ultra-Orthodox communities, youth groups, and prison inmates whom the staff of the ORT institute teach under a pilot program in conjunction with the Israel Prison Authorities and Hebrew University.

The courses, conducted by the ORT Institute for Adult training in the ORT Israel network, the largest ORT operation worldwide, tailors many programs to new immigrants from underdeveloped countries who may have been denied a formal education. Courses, designed to give them a second chance to learn or to change occupations, are conducted on a continuing basis in fields that include Jewish studies, computers, electricity, electronics, mechanics and accounting. Discussing the program involving prison inmates, Gray said the project provides advanced education and skills training to 400 prisoners in six jails who have successfully completed basic courses in reading, writing and mathematics. ORT staff members go to the prisons five times a week to teach Hebrew, history, civics and a foreign language, usually English.

ORT has also introduced a basic course in technology which enables graduates to join technical training programs after their release from prison. Upon completion of the program, inmates receive a certificate of graduation from ORT which enables them to compete with other high school graduates when they seek employment.

According to Gray, ORT Israel also provides assistance to troubled high school dropouts in over 50 Israeli towns through an innovative program called HILA. Conducted by ORT in cooperation with the Israel Ministry of Education and Culture and local municipalities, HILA provides basic education and skills to high school dropouts aged 15 to 18, one-third of whom have difficulty in reading and writing.

Study sessions take place at students’ homes, community centers, or at ORT schools, and are planned for afternoons and evenings to avoid conflict with the students’ work schedules. The study program, which varies in length from three months to a year, is planned individually for each participating youngster according to his or her potential, knowledge and field of interest. The curriculum is jointly planned, thus involving the students as active participants in the learning process.

NEW ORT SCHOOL TO OPEN IN 1988

According to Gray, construction of the ORT Braude Institute of Technology in Karmiel, Israel, due to open in January 1988, is proceeding on schedule. Located in the Western Galilee, the Institute will provide high-level technological education in computers, electronics, robotics, energy studies, bio-technology, electro-optics and the pure sciences. The Braude Institute honors the memory of the late Max Braude, director general of the World ORT Union from 1957 to 1980.

Gray noted that recent additions to the ORT Israel network include: the ORT program at Habonim Comprehensive School in Bat Yam, offering both liberal arts and technical studies; the ORT school in Katzrin, formerly a junior high school, which has expanded to become a regional comprehensive high school; the new ORT Apprenticeship Center at Kiryat Malachi, which offers training in computers, auto mechanics, electro mechanics and sewing; and a new ORT junior high school program in Karmiel, slated to expand to a comprehensive high school in the near future.

During the four-day Conference, which began Thursday, some 500 delegates from AOF chapters and divisions throughout the U.S. will participate in discussions geared to determining the future direction of support for the ORT global network of schools and training centers, which provide vocational, technical and Jewish education to over 158,000 student, 87,000 in Israel alone.

The guest speaker at the conference banquet will be Prof. Ephraim Katzir, newly elected president of the World ORT Union and former president of Israel. In his report, Gray described the work of ORT in countries around the world. In Latin America there are 13,800 students in Argentina, 8,800 in Brazil, 1,500 in Chile, 3,300 in Mexico, 5,000 in Peru, and 7,900 in Uruguay. In France, ORT educates 8,500 students and in Italy ORT students number 4,500. Gray said that in France, at the request of the Ministry of Employment, ORT set up vocational training courses for long-term unemployed, geared toward the needs of local industry and commerce.

According to Gray, ORT’s growing presence in the United States is increasingly in the area of adult and continuing education. At the Bramson ORT Technical Institute in New York City, which provides training in technology-intensive fields such as biomedical electronics, computer operations and advanced optics, more than 400 percent of the student population is over the age of 25.

The Los Angeles ORT Technical Institute, which began its second academic school year in October 1986, offers short-term courses in hi-tech skills as well as Jewish studies to adults looking for a new career or a fresh start in life. The Jewish High School of South Florida continues to pioneer programs for integrating computer education into all aspects of the curriculum.

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