29 August 2008 ORT schools in Russia enjoy facelift Two of World ORTs leading schools in Russia are enjoying major renovations thanks to a $2 million injection of public funds. The Moscow ORT Technology School and the ORT de Gunzburg School in St Petersburg have each received about $1 million to undertake much needed repairs and upgrading to the fabric of their buildings. In the usually busy run-up to the start of the new school year, staff members are having to contend with the completion of dusty and disruptive work throughout their workplaces. And their work is compounded by having to re-install the expensive and delicate ICT and other equipment that World ORT has provided over the years, which had been packed away while the renovations were in full swing. But with the prospect of working in a greatly improved environment no-one is complaining. They have replaced the windows, installed a new central heating and air conditioning system and redecorated the classrooms, said Moscow ORT Technology School Principal Dr Marina Moiseeva of the work at her pre-World War Two building. The renovation of the Moscow school is a taste of things to come: in 2010 the citys governing authority is expected to invest a further $12 to $14 million to build a sports hall, primary school and administrative offices. Once we have such improved facilities we will be in a position to change our programme and extend our specialisation in technology to languages Hebrew, English and a third language to be chosen by parents. By serving a wider age range we will not only make the school more attractive to parents but we will attract more government funding and we will have the potential to upgrade our status to that of a gymnasium, which is the highest level of school in Russia, Ms Moiseeva said. Its very exciting; were looking forward to a better future. Similarly major works have been going on at the ORT de Gunzburg School, whose building once housed a prestigious school under the patronage of Prince Alexei in the mid-19th Century. Given its historic status and its position in a picturesque square in the heart of St Petersburg, some of the city government money is being used to renovate the buildings fa ade. However, like the school in Moscow, a huge effort has been made to modernise the internal fabric of the building, too. And, like in Moscow, more public money is anticipated in the near future to improve school facilities, including the canteen and classrooms. The Head of World ORTs Coordination Department, Vladimir Dribinskiy, was Director of ORT St Petersburg between 1992 and 2002 and knows the ORT de Gunzburg School intimately. This work is serious recognition by the authorities of the achievements of the school achievements which resulted in its being awarded the Presidents Prize, Russias highest award for innovation and excellence in education, last year, Mr Dribinskiy said. This public money is the icing on the cake of the millions of dollars invested in the school by World ORT over the past 16 years, largely thanks to the generosity of such major donors as World ORT President Dr Jean de Gunzburg and his wife Terry. It will allow World ORT to concentrate on its core objectives, including the further development of the schools ICT infrastructure as a tool for modern teaching, quality control, professional development and the development of the combination of the state curriculum with Jewish studies and ICT studies.