27 June 2007 World ORT returns to Tunisia after 35 years World ORT is returning to Tunisia after an absence of 35 years. In an initiative financed by ORT Netherlands, World ORT has already provided computers, internet connection and ancillary equipment for an ICT laboratory at the small, Lubavitch-run school in Tunis. The Head of Programmes at World ORT International Cooperation, Jean-Pierre Pons, visited the school last week to assess its needs. The school is centrally located in a building that used to house one of World ORTs two local schools from 1950. The other former ORT school building is now the University of Tuniss faculty of Political Science. It is a small Jewish community in Tunisia, said Mr Pons. They were all very happy when they learned that World ORT was coming back to help them. I felt like Santa Claus. World ORT has supplied the school with two computer workstations, one laptop computer, one digital camera and scanner, an external hard drive, internet connection and specialised furniture. Combined with two computers supplied by the JDC, this means the school will have the basis of a fully operational IT laboratory when it re-opens after the summer holiday. Much needed refurbishment to the school building is being financed by the JDC. Of critical importance is the on-going and equipment upgrading training that World ORT will provide. We will provide training for teachers and also senior students so that the IT skills that many of us take for granted in Europe and America can become second nature to the next generation of Jews in Tunisia, Mr Pons said. A class under way at the Jewish school in Tunis. There are many students of Tunisian origin studying at ORT schools in France. However, the Tunis school teaches students right up to Baccalaureate, Frances standard high school graduation exams. Armed with this qualification, the students are eligible to attend university in Tunisia, France and further afield. Particularly for those children who continue their studies overseas, it is very important that their IT skills are at a standard comparable to their peers, Mr Pons said. ORT Netherlands Chairman Robbert Baruch said his organisation was proud to sponsor the return to Tunisia. The beauty of this project, Mr Baruch said, is that so many elements come together: the centuries-old presence of Jews in North Africa, our European Jewish heritage, modern, state-of-the-art technology and ORTs historic development and delivery of education and vocational training. Historically, World ORT programmes in Tunisia were significant in bringing modern technology to young Jews throughout the 1950s. However, rapid emigration occurred in the decade following independence from France in 1956 leading to the winding down of ORT operations. Today, the Jewish population numbers approximately 3,000. World ORT deals with people, not numbers, World ORT Director General Robert Singer said. So small communities like Tunisia and Cuba are no less important to us than bigger ones. We are, therefore, also considering a request from the historic Tunisian community of Djerba to provide educational and training services. At the end of the day, the end users of our services are individual students. 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.