The Israeli government has shown its appreciation for World ORT’s operations in the Former Soviet Union with a high level ministerial visit to two ORT schools in Moldova on the second day of the new school year.
Israeli Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who was accompanied by an Israeli delegation that included the chair of the Knesset Subcommittee on Immigrant Absorption, Lia Shemtov, the deputy mayors of Nahariya and Migdal Ha’Emek, and ministerial staff, visited both the ORT Rambam School and the ORT Herzl Technology Lyceum in Kishinev, the Minister’s birthplace.
At ORT Rambam, the delegation was welcomed by the school’s 320 students with Israeli and Moldovan songs and first grade students, on only their second day at the school, waving Israeli flags. The school joined the ORT network in 2009 and benefits from improved resources, participation in continuing professional development programmes for teachers and the introduction of new ORT technology teaching methodologies.
The Minister looked in on a Hebrew lesson and was shown around the school’s Holocaust Museum, a reminder of how this centuries-old Jewish community was almost extinguished during World War II.
Speaking about the visit and the reaction and interest shown by the minister, Rambam Lyceum principal, Sofia Shkolnik said: “It was very important to our students and teachers to show the results of our work… It is very pleasing when your work is valued at its true worth.”?
The delegation moved on to the ORT Herzl Technology Lyceum, which joined the ORT network a decade ago before its elevation to Lyceum status. In 2008 it was recognized as the leading educational institution in Moldova.
A warm welcome in the courtyard by the school’s almost 400 students, to the accompaniment of Israeli and national hymns, was then followed by a tour of the classrooms to see lessons in progress. The minister watched as students demonstrated their knowledge in IT lessons where ORT teaching methodologies have been introduced. The many advanced facilities in the classroom, not available in most state schools here, have been made possible through international donor support for ORT programmes.
Mr Lieberman participated in a Hebrew lesson, telling students how his schooldays in Kishinev contrasted with theirs.
“The study of Hebrew and other languages is now not simply possible but is encouraged,”? he said. “Add to this the universal technology knowledge which you gain in your advanced educational establishment, and these components guarantee that you will be successful in any society and in any field.”?
Later, during an informal meeting with ORT staff and ninth to twelfth grade students, the principal, Svetlana Klimina, spoke about the history and the achievements of her school and its high ranking in Moldova. The school’s outstanding results in matriculation exams place its graduates in the highest group in the country, with almost 100 per cent of graduates accepted to University, with 80 per cent of them on the government budget.
At the last meeting of the education committee of the Kishinev Department of Education, the committee head remarked that general studies at the ORT Technology Lyceum, which include four languages, and mathematics, are on a very high level and the school has excellent computer studies “ﾓ a ratio of one computer for every three children, compared to the national average of just one computer for every 27 children. ORT Herzl Lyceum was chosen as the only Moldovan school to become part of Microsoft’s global Pathfinder project.
“It’s excellent that ORT teaches and trains its students in this highly important field [of technology] which is very much demanded and appreciated in Israel and all over the world,”? Mr Lieberman said.
Israel was a land of opportunities, he added, because “there’s a very open society where everyone has the possibility to succeed”?.
Year 12 student Gorbataya Aleksandra found the Minister’s visit inspirational.
“He is originally from Moldova and made aliyah when he was 20 years old and in Israel he has made a successful political career. Since I study at the ORT Technological Lyceum named after Herzl, I also have a dream to make aliyah. So, Mr Lieberman’s life is a worthy example for me to follow.”?
The local Jewish community feels a deep connection with Israel “ﾓ the families of more than 500 children from the school have made aliya in the past 10 years.
Mr Lieberman concluded the visit with the promise to continue support for Jewish schools and Jewish education.
“We are going to increase our support for Jewish communities in the countries of the Former Soviet Union, and first of all this assistance will be directed to educational programmes. This includes Moldova,”? he said.
As the delegation prepared to depart, a picture of Jerusalem the Golden was presented to Mr Lieberman as a memento of his visit and first grade students handed each member of the delegation a balloon to release into the air in the school courtyard.