16 September 2005 The start of the new academic year this month has been the focus of a special celebration at the Kazan Jewish School ORT-Mishpahteynu as it marks the fifth anniversary of the official opening of its ORT Technology Centre. The school, the largest non-religious Jewish school in Tatarstan, celebrated its own fifth anniversary last year. However, it has been the introduction of ORTs technological and computer teaching that has been a major contributor to ORT-Mishpahteynus current prestigious reputation. The schools curriculum includes all subjects of the State Education Curriculum as well as Jewish studies. The ORT Technology Centre focuses on teaching computer science and technological subjects, and has introduced up-to-date teaching methods and educational technologies to that end. Thanks to the Centre the school can offer a unique educational programme that includes ICT-related courses, project-based learning, and integration of school disciplines; it has also enabled the training of all the schools teachers in the use of computers as educational tools and introduced distance learning courses provided by the Moscow ORT College. The ORT Centre the first modern education institution in Kazan also provides courses for educators in non-ORT schools and cooperates with the Ministry of Education as it adopts distance learning technologies for schools and colleges throughout the republic. Students and staff celebrate the fifth anniversary of the ORT Technology Centre at the Kazan Jewish School ORT-Mishpahtenu. Over the past five years, the ORT Technology Centre at the Kazan Jewish School ORT-Mishpahteynu has gained a reputation for excellence and seen its student roll increase as a result. Last year, the Kazan ORT Technological Centre was officially recognised as offering the best innovative technology in education in the republic; and a citywide competition resulted in it winning the first prize for the quality of its computer equipment. In the last academic year, eight of the schools 54 graduates were awarded with medals for outstanding academic achievements. Kazan Jewish School ORT-Mishpahteynu graduates find themselves well equipped to continue their education not only at local universities but also at the best educational institutions in Russia, Israel, Germany and the USA. The ORT Technology Centres success is a tribute to the support and vision of Sir Maurice and Lady Hatter, Suzanne and Henry Davis, Paul and Marlene Borman, Friends of American ORT, British ORT, the Ministry of Education of Israel, the Jewish Agency, the Russian Jewish Congress and the Jewish Community of Kazan, said the National Director of ORT CIS and the Baltic States, Avi Ganon. The success of ORTs operations in Kazan mirrors the extraordinary advances we have made in the former Soviet Union as a whole, Mr Ganon added. Since 1999, the number of ORT students in these countries has increased from 3,500 to 27,000; the number of pedagogical staff involved stands at some 2,500 while nearly 100 staff are directly employed by ORT. Yet the central costs of this tremendous operation, which expanded from two to seven countries and from five to 32 cities, actually decreased in real terms. This tremendous work has been done by very devoted ORT staff and thanks to the excellent relations that we have developed with the local authorities in these countries. Young students enjoying the facilities at the Kazan Jewish School ORT-Mishpahtenu.