18 February 2009 Recognition of excellence for ORT school in Odessa ORT’s school in Odessa has emerged from the shadow of budget cuts with a glittering recognition of its educational achievements. A committee of parliamentarians, academics and educational experts has named the school a Flagship of Contemporary Science and Education in Ukraine, placing it among the top one per cent of the country’s education sector. The ORT school had been nominated by the Odessa Department of Education because of its impressive performance this year, including its winning of a local competition focusing on modern technologies in education and its recognition at a national education exhibition. Like other ORT schools in the Former Soviet Union, the Odessa school’s Jewish character is threatened by the Heftsibah funding crisis precipitated by the Jewish Agency for Israel’s withdrawal of support. And Ukraine’s struggling economy means there is relatively little public money to maintain the school’s fabric and amenities, said World ORT Coordination Department Head Vladimir Dribinskiy. ‘The school has suffered a lot from budget cuts yet despite these problems it manages to maintain a very good standard of education – the result of the combination of dedicated, skilled staff and 13 years’ input from World ORT,’ Mr Dribinskiy said. The ORT Odessa school is one of only 126 institutions designated an educational flagship by the committee, which was a joint venture by the Parliamentary Committee on Science and Education, the Ministry of Science and Education, the National Academy of Science and the Academy of Pedagogical Science of Ukraine. The evaluating committee’s aim was to raise awareness of educational and scientific issues and to support scientific research so that it could become internationally competitive and attract domestic and foreign investment. President of the Academy of Pedagogical Science of Ukraine, Professor Vasiliy Kremen, said the ORT school had contributed to ‘finding new ways of modernising education and science’ in the country. The school, which is situated a block away from ORT’s original vocational school in the port city founded in 1882, provides high quality Jewish and general education for 400 students aged between six and 17. The school offers a wide variety of technology and vocational courses, in particular ICT and robotics. It is one of six schools and 10 vocational training centres affiliated to ORT in the country. School Principal Svetlana Manchenko said: ‘Thanks to our close cooperation with World ORT we have modern computer classes and a media library. We’re able to maintain up-to-date educational equipment, including the ‘Archimedes’ digital laboratory which allows students to prepare high level practical work and presentations in chemistry, physics and biology.’ In addition, the widespread use of ICT in the school allowed the expansion of inter-subject connections, which in turn developed students’ educational skills and motivation, Mrs Manchenko said. This is not the first time that ORT has impressed independent experts in Ukraine. Less than two years ago, judges from the Ministry of Education and Science, the National Academy of Science, the State Committee of Communication and Information and the National Council of Television and Broadcasting awarded a gold medal to ORT Ukraine for its presentation at a national exhibition on high technology in education.