The ORT network has regained a foothold in the western Ukraine city of Chernovtsy with the acceptance of the city’s Jewish school into the fold.
Jewish School No. 41, the only state Jewish school in Bukovyna, the region straddling the Ukrainian-Romanian border, is looking forward to upgrading its already respected standards now that its students and staff can benefit from ORT’s support.
“The school has an excellent Jewish Studies programme but lacks the technological component which is ORT’s strength,”? said Josef Zissels, Chairman of the Vaad Association of Jewish Communities of Ukraine. “Many parents feel the school provides a great atmosphere and Jewish component but some would not send their children there because the level of teaching science is not at a particularly high level.”? However, Mr Zissels felt that more of the parents who currently try to get their children into the lyceum, which has the reputation of high standards in science teaching, would happily consider the new ORT school once international investments have kicked in.
“Parents’ primary concern is their children’s admission to university and learning science provides them with the skills that would allow them to enter the best departments of the Chernovtsy University,”? he said, adding: “A science degree is widely respected and the qualification is much sought after “ﾓ even by those with no intention of using it professionally.”?
David Benish, World ORT Representative to the Countries of the Former Soviet Union, said that in the short term, the school would benefit from having a computer class installed with at least 17 terminals. World ORT would also provide a robotics laboratory as well as teacher training.
“In the long term we hope to find a donor in the West who would want to upgrade the school and create there a full ORT centre “ﾓ with extra staff, Interactive Whiteboards, computerisation of the school, like we have in other schools,”? Mr Benish said.
Ludwiga Tsurcan, who has been principal at the school since 2006, said it was very important to join World ORT.
“We hope to receive technical support for the realisation of lessons and for extra curricular activities,”? Ms Tsurcan said. “We want to apply children to different technological courses and programmes, to develop their knowledge of computers and science, and to give the teachers opportunities to visit seminars and workshops.”?
It is this ambitious, can-do spirit which impressed Mr Benish when he first visited the school six months ago.
“I liked the staff “ﾓ they are very committed to the students and their future,”? he said. “What we give to upgrade the school will be used well.”?
Overall, however, the school will have value added to its education by the power of networking and ORT’s strong Continuous Professional Development ethos.
“It is not only the school’s 320 students who will benefit,”? said Mr Zissels. “The school will be more attractive to maths and science teachers, too.”?
Before the war, ORT had two schools in the town, a third of whose population was Jewish leading to its being dubbed “Jerusalem on the [River] Prut”?. ORT’s new school in Chernovtsy means that the organisation now has five institutions in Ukraine “ﾓ not including a technology centre at an Ohr Avner school.
For World ORT Director General and CEO Robert Singer, visiting the school in Chernovtsy last month was a trip down memory lane.
“I discovered to my astonishment that the block next to where I lived as a boy had been the main ORT school before the war,”? Mr Singer said. “I was surprised to see that the community, although small, is vibrant with an excellent school, a Jewish museum, two synagogues and a welfare organisation. As always, ORT pays attention not only to the large communities but to the small ones. Our presence in Chernovtsy is particularly important given ORT’s pre-war history in the city.”?