World ORT has signed an historic agreement with the Armenian Government launching ORT educational and vocational training activities in the country for the first time.
The memorandum of understanding promotes cooperation in the implementation of high technology and the Internet in the education sector, the development of information technology, and the creation of programmes promoting the development of high-tech centres in Armenian universities.
With this week’s formal registration of ORT Armenia, under the presidency of Dr Svetlana Harutyunyan, the Torah Ohr Sunday School, which serves the capital Yerevan’s small Jewish community, will join the international ORT network.
The agreement also paves the way for World ORT’s International Cooperation Department (ORT IC) to establish an exemplary school in the capital, which will act as a nucleus for the modernisation of education throughout the Caucasus.
The school’s 500 to 700 pupils will enjoy a truly modern education thanks to the combination of ORT expertise and international connections.
Currently, visiting the school was like walking into a museum, said World ORT Representative in the CIS, Central Asia, Caucasian States and Baltic States, David Benish, who attended the signing ceremony with World ORT Director General and CEO Robert Singer and ORT France President and World ORT Board of Trustees member Dr Lucien Kalfon.
“We’re going to connect the school to a computer network, create computer and video labs as well as computerised physics and chemistry labs; and classrooms will be fitted with Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs). The school currently uses computers which ORT hasn’t used for more than 10 years and the equipment in the physics lab hasn’t been used in the West for about 50 years,”? Mr Benish said.
Most importantly, World ORT will send in international experts to train the Armenians in the effective use of the new equipment, including Israeli teachers who have mastered the technology introduced at their schools by World ORT’s programmatic arms in Israel, Kadima Mada. The Yerevan school’s teachers will then go on to train thousands of fellow educators from Armenia, Georgia and other countries.
“It’s very exciting. ORT is leading the development of Armenia’s education to Western standards and in so doing is creating a nucleus of expertise for the whole region,”? Mr Benish said.
World ORT is preparing to send an evaluation team to Armenia next month as the first step in having everything up and running by the next academic year.
Dr Harutyunyan is the natural choice for ORT Armenia’s inaugural president. Married to the Ombudsman of Armenia, Professor Armen Harutyunyan, Dr Harutyunyan heads the faculty of Psychology at the Yerevan State University and is a former student of ORT Russia President and World ORT Board of Trustees member Professor Alexander Asmolov.
“The collapse of the Soviet Union led to a crisis in the education system,”? said Dr Harutyunyan. “Becoming part of World ORT is vital not only for the development of education here but to its survival. Armenia needs a modern, professional secondary education system to generate the technological and professional skills needed for economic progress. World ORT’s international expertise in teaching technology provides unlimited opportunities for improving welfare, economic and social development.”?
There were less than 1,000 Jews in Armenia, which is bordered by Georgia, Turkey, Iran and Azerbaijan, and World ORT’s presence would also contribute to its strengthening, she added, by providing technological support.
Mr Singer said ORT’s presence in Armenia was an historic opportunity to promote well-being in an often overlooked part of the world.
“The Armenian people’s innate talent has traditionally been nurtured by a high level of education resulting in a reservoir of professional skills,”? he said. “World ORT feels privileged to become partners with the Armenian Government in helping to rebuild the country.”?
He added: “Obviously, ORT is also committed to help all Jewish communities in need, no matter how small. We are delighted to be able to support Armenia’s ancient community as well as the broader population with whom Jews have enjoyed good relations for centuries. My thanks go to all involved and in particular Lucien [Kalfon] who really is doing an outstanding job for World ORT on this matter.”?