ORT and Dominica seek ways to work together


11 July 2006 Dominican Education Minister visits ORT House ORT looks set to expand its presence in the Caribbean following a meeting with Dominicas Minister for Education, Human Resource Development, Sports and Youth Affairs. The Minister, Vince Henderson, accompanied by Dominicas Ambassador to UNESCO, Eric Torner, discussed his governments bid to establish a technical training capacity that would create a workforce equipped to deal with a diversified and forward-looking economy. Known as The Nature Island of the Caribbean because of its spectacular, lush and varied flora and fauna, Dominicas economy has traditionally relied on agriculture for export income. However, international trade rulings have hit the former British colonys banana exports to Europe and so created the need to find alternative sources of income. The introduction of reliable telecommunications systems to the island in the eastern Caribbean means that ICT and off-shore banking are sectors that the government is exploring. Tourism (the new blockbuster movie Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Mans Chest was filmed on location in Dominica) is another industry under development that will require a skilled, service-oriented workforce. Before coming to ORT House, London, Mr Henderson toured ORT Montreuil High School in Paris with ORT France President Marcel Benichou and World ORTs Representative to UNESCO, Jose Garson, who had initiated contacts after meeting Mr Torner at the UNs cultural organisation. We toured the school and the minister was very impressed, especially by the modernity of the equipment, Mr Benichou said. There were no children present because of the summer holidays but the visitors saw some of the adult education classes held on site. Mr Benichou said the minister was happy to note the multi-racial character of the students, an issue that was raised again in London. At ORT House, Mr Henderson said he believed ORT was the perfect organisation to help his country of 70,000 people meet the challenges of economic modernisation and diversification. Im really impressed that, in these days of global turmoil with racial and religious separation, that an institution comes out the struggle of [the Jewish] people and emerges as an international organisation which reaches out to all races, creeds and various walks of life, Mr Henderson said. I find this totally amazing. ORT is a remarkable organisation, one of the best that Ive encountered. Dominican Education Minister Vince Henderson with Director General Robert Singer outside ORT House. ORT has a resurgent presence in Cuba, well to the north of Dominica, but World ORT Director General Robert Singer noted it was the organisations philosophy to put its skills and expertise at the service of as many people as possible. World ORTs Head of Education and Technology, Dr Gaby Meyassed, added that it was not ORTs way to come into a country and tell it what to do but rather to assist people to make the changes they themselves have identified and prioritised. There is clearly a lot of potential in Dominica and a tremendous will amongst the people there to realise it for the benefit of all, Dr Meyassed said. ORTs International Cooperation arm is perfectly positioned to help them pursue their aspirations. He suggested, and Mr Henderson agreed, that funding be sought for an exploratory visit to Dominica by educationalists from ORTs Latin America operations who would prepare a report on how to build the vocational capacity the minister envisions. This practical study would then be written up in a way that would allow it to be presented to potential funding organisations, he said. ORT IC provides non-sectarian humanitarian support to the developing world. Current projects which are funded in cooperation with bilateral and multi-lateral aid agencies and by private foundations include health and nutrition, transport, rural development, refugee training, information technology and the training of women. World ORT, founded in 1880, is the worlds largest Jewish education and vocational training non-government organisation with some 270,000 students Jewish and non-Jewish in 58 countries.