ORT Science and Technology Centre inaugurated at Sofia Jewish High School


27 October 2003 The ORT Science and Technology Centre was inaugurated at the Jewish High School in Sofia, Bulgaria on 24th October. The centre includes the latest facilities for the study of Science and ICT (Information and Communication Technology) and will create new opportunities in education for the local community. At the ceremony addresses were given by Bulgarian Minister of Education and Science, Prof. Dr Igor Damianov; the President of the Shalom Foundation, Emil Kalo; Vice President of the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, Dr. George Ban; and Director General of World ORT, Robert Singer. The Centre was officially opened by Sir Maurice and Lady Irene Hatter, who also supported it, and by Dr. George Ban. Following the ceremony an agreement was signed between World ORT and the Bulgarian Ministry of Education, and between the Ministry of Education, the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, World ORT and the Shalom Foundation. The Jewish High School in Sofia has been part of the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation educational network since 1998 when it was given national status. Students study Hebrew to advanced level and participate in a variety of Jewish identity programmes. The school is a model of ethnic and cultural tolerance. The Science and Technology Centre is equipped with the best available educational technology facilities and represents a major step forward education and teaching methodology. As a result of the improved facilities the school will be able to accommodate students up to senior higher school level, bridging a gap in the citys Jewish education. An integral part of the Centre will be its provision of training and support for teachers and other staff. As part of ORTs educational network in Eastern Europe, the Centres teachers will benefit from exchange programmes, seminars and educational events with colleagues from other countries where ORT has operations. ‘In addition to enhancing the schools current facilities, the new Centre will concentrate on providing education-related opportunities for the Jewish community, as has been the case with many similar ORT projects’, said Robert Singer, World ORTs Director General. ‘We are delighted that by opening a new Science and Technology Centre in Bulgaria, ORT can play an important role in the Bulgarian educational system’, he added. ORT began activities in Bulgaria in 1926, in coordination with the local Jewish authority, when it offered workshops in woodwork, bookbinding, textiles and tailoring. Following the Second World War, ORT was re-established in Bulgaria, and in 1947 a technical school was opened in Sofia, the centre of Bulgarian Jewish activity. Despite the emigration of some 90 percent of Bulgarian Jewry to Israel, ORT maintained its activities for the remaining members of the community until being forced out of the country in 1949 by the authorities. The school was transferred, with its students and teachers, to Jaffa in Israel and in 1952 moved to Tel Aviv to the site that later became ORT Syngalowski. In the early 1950s the school was one of the first training units in Israel, a model from which a number of ORT schools in Israel were developed over the years.