South Africa looks to ORT for international expertise


28 January 2010 South Africa looks to ORT for international expertise A high-powered delegation from South Africa has toured ORT institutions in Paris and Moscow, its members seeing them as models of the quality vocational education they want to develop in their own country. Senior representatives of government and business joined representatives of ORT South Africa on the four-day fact-finding mission, which took in the stunningly refurbished ORT Montreuil school in Paris and the ORT Technology College and ORT Technology School in Moscow. Frank, professional discussions with local business people, educationalists and staff provided insights into the benefits of the ORT model as well as the challenges which must be overcome in order to attain the high standards on display. The South African delegation at ORT Montreuil. It is the dream of all of us at ORT South Africa to have an ORT school here, said ORT SAs Head of Marketing, PR and New Projects, Carol Rod, who was a member of the delegation. Definitely, this trip has taken us a step closer towards realising our goal. Seeing what ORT is achieving in Paris and Moscow and how impressed the delegates were has left me feeling so proud of being part of this world organisation. However, founding an ORT school in South Africa is very much a long-term aim. In the short- to medium-term it is hoped to harness the expertise of ORT internationally to develop vocational courses in the Jewish and non-Jewish schools where ORT SA already has a presence. Last year, for example, ORT SA launched its Geared for Life programme in 10 high schools: free, extra-curricular courses culminating in nationally recognised diplomas in marketing, project management, paralegal practice and beauty-nail technology. That programme is supported by the Service Sector Education and Training Authority (Services SETA). Services SETA, which uses taxation on companies in service industries to raise the skills level of their workers, is assessing whether vocational courses could be made available for younger children. Richard Findlay, a Board Member of Services SETA, was on the delegation together with fellow Board Member Elizabeth Findlay, Deputy CEO Treaty Moshoeshoe and prominent ANC Member of Parliament Kenzani Kubayi, who is Government Whip on the Parliamentary Committee on Basic, Higher Education and Training. Mr Findlay, who was due to submit a report on the trip to his CEO, Ivor Blumenthal, this week, said he was very impressed by what he had seen. He added: We need to decide whether what we saw can be replicated in South Africa and, if it can, how do we go about doing it. It may be worthwhile going back for a second look. This is not something that will happen overnight; its a big project. Its a question of slowly, slowly catchy monkey. At both Paris and Moscow, the delegates, who also included ORT SAs Head of Skills Development, Tracy Mayhew, immersed themselves in an intensive series of presentations, meetings and discussions. The Head of World ORTs Education Department, Daniel Tysman, accompanied the delegates on the Paris leg. They were thoroughly impressed with the professionalism, leadership and dedication of the management team at Montreuil, Mr Tysman said. The expertise of the staff was clearly evident throughout our visit and the delegates were giving many ideas for training programmes that they might like to adapt and develop in partnership with ORT South Africa. I believe that relationships between ORT France, ORT South Africa, World ORT and Services SETA will grow stronger as a result. ORT France National Director Marc Timsit gave the visitors an introduction to ORT Frances history and operations before the schools Principal, Esther Douieb, and Deputy Principal, Elio Lumbroso, explained the schools various vocational courses in IT, dental prosthetics, optics and business management, some of which can be pursued up to the equivalent of a Masters degree. In Moscow, the delegation were shown how ORT can provide a full range of vocational education services, from pre-vocational school level up to adult education and on-going career development, said ORT Russia National Director Dr Sergey Gorinskiy. And during their visit to the ORT Technology College, the delegation participated in a round table discussion on the theme, Training Programmes: Cooperation with State and Business. Also taking part were Dr Gorinskiy, the Colleges Director and Deputy Director, Dr Yuri Mironenko and Igor Pavlov, the First Deputy Director of the Federal Institute of Educational Development and General Director of the National Agency for Qualifications Development, Professor Alexander Leibovich, the Director of the SKOLKOVO Infrastructure Research Centre, Professor Alan Kantrow, the Vice President of the Federation of Restaurateurs and Hoteliers, Igor Karapetyan, and Vice President of the Moscow Union of Designers, Antonina Rudnitskaya. We enjoyed very professional discussions, Dr Gorinskiy said. It was very interesting for us that the delegates asked us some questions about the challenges we face that we had not asked ourselves. So having their observations from the outside have helped us to see things in a new way. World ORT Director General and CEO Robert Singer said he was delighted that the tour had been a success. World ORT is very happy to work with governments in every continent and to provide their citizens with the benefit of our know-how, Mr Singer said. It is an integral part of our lay leaders vision of tikkun olam.