New home for ORT-Tech


11 March 2010 New home for ORT-Tech For the first time in its 17-year history, the nerve centre of ORT-Tech, the arm of ORT South Africa which trains educators in the teaching of maths, science and technology, has an exclusive, permanent home. ORT-Techs nine full-time staff members have moved into a building in Cape Towns northern suburbs. From there they will continue to run programmes which have benefited thousands of teachers and their hundreds of thousands of students. From left: British ORT Honorary President Sir David Sieff, ORT Chair Western Cape Nilly Baruch, ORT South Africa National Chairman Irwin Lipmworth, ORT SA National Vice Chairman Ricci Lyons, ORT Tech Trust Past Chairman David Susman, ORT-TECH Trust Chairman Dorienne Levitt, and ORT-Tech Director Alta Greef. The converted four-bedroom house in Bellville has been named after David Susman, an honorary life president of ORT South Africa and a former Managing Director of Woolworths, one of South Africas largest retail chains. For the past 10 years, ORT-Tech has been sharing office space at the MTN Science Centre in Cape Town. The lease is due to expire this year and the resulting uncertainty prompted the search for new premises. The facilities we have now are much better, said Irma Bester, Personal Assistant to ORT-Tech Director Alta Greef. Previously we were sharing an open plan office space with other organisations. Now we are all together, with all our things in one place and with our own switchboard. Its a more pleasurable environment and that influences the work we do. ORT-Tech Chairman Dorienne Levitt said the relocation had been an example of good governance. Not one penny of programmatic funds was used in the purchase, renovation or furnishing of the new office building, Ms Levitt said. All the costs were covered by a special fundraising campaign. She said the buildings name was a fitting tribute to Mr Susman, who has been active in ORT since his childhood and without whom ORT-Tech could not have done its valuable work making a difference to current and future generations of South Africans. David makes the world a better place by what he does and by what he gives to others, Ms Levitt said. He doesnt stop at good enough, he goes beyond that to something fabulous and great. He thinks big but in the most elegant ways. Among those attending the intimate ceremony formally opening the office was Honorary President of British ORT Sir David Sieff and his wife Lady Jeni. Describing ORT-Techs achievements as dramatic, Sir David noted that many thousands of teachers have been trained in elementary technology, science and mathematics and it is estimated that some quarter of a million pupils have had some basic exposure to these subjects as a result of this training. Mr Susman had given a lifetimes dedication to ORT, he added. If it wasnt for Davids commitment and generosity, Im not sure where ORT SA would be. ORT-Tech was established by World ORT in 1993 as the ORT Science and Technology Education Programme (ORT STEP). At the launch, President Nelson Mandela said: If there is one tool that will enable people to rise above their circumstances it is education, particularly education that leads to the acquisition of useful and marketable skills. In fulfilment of his words, World ORT advised the newly elected government on the inclusion of Technology as a Learning Area in the new South African Curriculum. ORT STEP was implemented across South Africa until 1998 since when it has focused on the Western Cape as ORT-Tech. ORT-Tech addresses one of the greatest challenges facing South Africa to develop, empower and equip educators to provide effective technology education and prepare todays learners for tomorrows world. The projects holistic approach does not limit its support to the provision of specific knowledge and skills in science, mathematics and technology education, but simultaneously promotes personal growth, confidence, creativity and cognitive skills. It offers courses in the Advanced Certificate in Education (ACE), a qualification which has been accredited by Rhodes University and the Cape University of Technology. Technology and the need to continuously learn and adapt have become a way of life. This constant transformation in todays dynamic, technological world makes it difficult, even for the most accomplished educators, to maintain the pace. South Africa is particularly disadvantaged in this regard, given the gaps in its educational system aggravated by the legacy of Apartheid. Among its highly effective programmes is ORT SEED (Sustainable Educator Empowerment and Development) which provides its ACE qualified teachers with practical classroom support to help them implement their new-found knowledge. None of the technology teachers in South Africa have been technology students in school, said Ms Greeff. Our focus has been on providing in-service training for this new generation of educators. But we found that they were having difficulties passing on this new knowledge in the classroom. ORT SEED remedies this situation.