Agreement signals greater World ORT involvement in Estonia


World ORT and the Estonian Government have signed an agreement which paves the way for a greater role for ORT in the development of the Baltic state’s education system.

The country’s only Jewish school formally affiliated with World ORT in 2008 but the Memorandum of Understanding signed in Tallinn this week by World ORT Trustee and President of ORT Bulgaria Dr Emil Kalo and Estonian Education Minister Professor Jaak Aaviksoo stands to benefit the whole of Estonian society.

“It’s a sign of World ORT’s commitment to Estonia,” Dr Kalo said. “This strategic framework agreement shows the direction which we will take together in implementing new projects in education. It extends beyond the Jewish school and opens up a wide range of partnering possibilities and to seek European Union funding.” World ORT Representative in the CIS and Baltic States David Benish said Professor Aaviksoo was well informed about ORT’s activities internationally.

“He also expressed his appreciation for the Israeli education system and we invited him to see World ORT’s achievements there. I think the Minister sees World ORT as a bridge between his country and the Jewish State,” Mr Benish said. “Despite the Minister’s busy schedule we were very warmly welcomed by him and his staff which augurs well for very fruitful cooperation going forward.”

The Memorandum of Understanding formalizes World ORT’s long standing willingness to share its expertise with the wider community as it hopes to do in neighbouring Latvia, where the ORT school’s top 10 ranking and vanguard position in high-tech facilities make it a potential centre of advanced teacher training in ICT, science and technology for the whole country.

Also at this week’s signing ceremony were the President and Executive Director of the 2,500-strong Estonian Jewish Community, Alla Jakobson and Vadim Rivlin.

“Ours is an active community,” Mr Rivlin said. “But it is small so we need international support. We are eager to make Jewish education more attractive and to raise standards. I hope that with World ORT’s help we can make our school among the best in the country.”

Once ranked among Estonia’s best 20 schools, the Jewish school has encountered financial problems since being re-established in 1990. World ORT is committed to modernizing what is the country’s only Jewish school and last year supplied it with a new computer class.

The school’s teachers benefit from World ORT’s Continuing Professional Development programme and there are plans to set up an ORT Science and Technology Centre there as well as to improve and update its curricula and textbooks.

“Professor Aaviksoo told us that he liked what he saw when he visited the ORT Tallinn Jewish school and said that he would visit it again,” Mr Benish said.