14 November 2008 Latvian President visits ORT school in Riga The President of Latvia, Valdis Zatlers, has visited the Baltic States only Jewish school official recognition of the astoundingly successful changes the school has made in recent years with World ORTs help. President Zatlers was greeted by teachers, students and administrative staff at the Dubnov Jewish School in the capital, Riga, and enjoyed a concert prepared in his honour. He was shown around the school, seeing for himself the ORT Technology Centre, which was opened there six years ago and renewed in 2007 through the Regeneration 2004 programme. This, the first visit to the school by a Latvian head of state, is serious recognition of its achievements, said the Head of World ORTs Coordination and Education and Technology Departments, Vladimir Dribinskiy. The school has enjoyed a dramatic turn around in its fortunes over the past few years despite the high emigration from what is already a small Jewish community of only some 8,000 people. This is largely due to the quality of the cooperation between the community and World ORT and the financial support of the Clore Duffield Foundation. Despite years of Jewish emigration, the Dubnov School has seen its enrolment increase from 170 to 200 over the past two years and, for the first time, has opened two first-grade classes. The ICT support, educational resources and teacher training that World ORT has been providing the school has seen it move to the forefront of 21st Century education and has helped make it the school of choice for Jewish families in Riga. This year, Dubnov Jewish was ranked the 10th best school in Riga, an improvement in ranking due largely to the high level of English and Maths we teach, the Principal, Gregory Bickson, said. This, and the quality of the Hebrew and Jewish learning, has also attracted the children of families who have been returning to Latvia since it joined the European Union. This academic year, World ORT opened a state-of-the-art computerised language laboratory dedicated to teaching the renowned Tal-Am Hebrew language educational programme. The new language laboratory is the envy of many other schools. It includes new computers equipped with high speed broadband Internet access, an interactive whiteboard and a digital computer projector, Mr Dribinskiy said. Its designed to be used mostly by the schools younger primary school students and was built to facilitate learning the basics of both ancient and modern Hebrew as part of the schools wider Jewish Studies programme. The laboratory was built as a joint project between the Riga Jewish community, headed by World ORT General Assembly member Arkady Sukharenko, and World ORT. The school has come a long way with World ORTs support but there are still things that need work, Mr Dribinskiy said. The sports facilities, for example, need renovation but that is a matter for the State authorities. In the meantime, World ORT is continuing its commitment to modernise the schools education, investing in teacher training and upgrading its IT facilities.