South Africa’s ORT SEED bears fruit


18 October 2007 South Africa’s ORT SEED bears fruit ORT SEED ORT South Africas innovative programme to bring science and technology education to under-resourced schools is bearing fruit. More than 50 students from three ORT SEED schools competed against each other to see which ones would go on to compete in the First Lego League provincial contest in Cape Town. The theme of this years competition is Energy Sources and participants were challenged to build and program a robot that can perform certain tasks successfully. The competition also involves each team presenting a research component. The teams from Northwood Primary, Linge Primary and Modderdam High Schools put their creations through their paces in Bonteheuwel, a working class township on the outskirts of Cape Town. The childrens ability to participate is a direct result of ORT SEED, which provides teachers who have graduated with the ORT-Tech Institutes officially recognised Advanced Certificate in Education with practical classroom support to help them implement their new found knowledge. Vagriuah Kariem, the Director of the ORT-Tech Institute in Cape Town that developed ORT SEED, said: This was the first of many opportunities that will be created by ORT for learners from disadvantaged township schools. ORT SEED has made it possible for four teams to compete in the regional First Lego League contest. A girls-only team from Northwood Primary School demonstrates its robot design to judges. The team went on to become the overall winners. First Lego League originated in the United States and provides a fun and creative hands-on learning experience. It teaches students to experiment, overcome obstacles and inspires participation in science and technology. ORT South Africas National Director, Michael Sieff, said: Through ORT SEED our excellent team at ORT-Tech has given children from underprivileged areas this brilliant opportunity. Truly educating for life! ORT South Africas Director of Education, Alta Greeff, said ORT SEED was providing practical help for science and technology teachers who had not studied technology when they were at school. Our focus has been on providing in-service training for this new generation of educators. We found they were having difficulties passing on their new knowledge in the classroom ORT SEED remedies this situation, Ms Greef said. The ORT SEED projects are made possible thanks to the support of the First Rand Foundation, Anglo Americans Chairmans Fund, Barbara Malks family trust and the Kaplan Kushlick Education Foundation. The joy and difference that this money makes in the lives of so many learners will continue to contribute to building our rainbow nation, Ms Greeff said. ORT-Tech was established in 1993 as the ORT Science and Technology Education Programme. World ORT is the worlds largest Jewish education and vocational training non-government organisation and has benefited more than 3 million people Jewish and non-Jewish in 100 countries since its foundation in 1880.