World ORT signs historic cooperation memorandum with Lithuania


28 September 2004 World ORT is set to become a significant force for the introduction of modern technology in Lithuanias education system following the signing of a memorandum on cooperation with the Baltic states Ministry of Education and Science at ORT House, London. Lithuanias Vice-Minister of Education, Rimantas Vaitkus, told those attending yesterdays signing ceremony that the memorandum would facilitate the start of using modern technologies outside the specialty of computer sciences throughout his countrys education system. The spread of information technologies has brought major changes and set up major corporations, Mr Vaitkus said. Its obvious that the quality and scope of IT determine the scope of opportunities of every individual and country. World ORT Director General Robert Singer (right) presents Lithuania’s Vice-Minister of Education, Rimantas Vaitkus, with a gift following the signing of the memorandum. Mr Vaitkus signed the agreement with World ORT Director General Robert Singer and World ORTs Executive Committee Chairman Mauricio Merikanskas. Among those attending the ceremony were Lithuanias Ambassador to the UK, Aurimas Taurantas, World ORT President Sir Maurice Hatter, World ORT Board of Directors Chairman Robert Sill, British ORT Chairman Alan Goldman and Clive Marks, principal backer of World ORTs new project-in-progress, Music during the Holocaust. Mr Singer said the signing of the memorandum was a very special event for World ORT. Some of my predecessors, including the people who established ORT Israel, came from Lithuania, he said. ORT had a strong presence in Lithuania between the wars. When we had an opportunity to resume our activities there two years ago we felt the closing of a circle and the starting of a new circle. And thats why we wanted to sign this memorandum we see this as just the beginning. The Vice-Minister said the experience and expertise acquired by ORT over the past 124 years would prove very useful in our efforts to improve Lithuanian education. We need this experience in vocational training, he told journalists after the ceremony. This is the weak point of our education system. But he stressed that cooperation with World ORT would not be limited to vocational training, citing ORTs skills in training the trainers, continuous education, production of textbooks, and use of hi-tech throughout the curriculum. He added that European Union funds could be accessed to implement projects resulting from the memorandum. Lithuania was one of 10 countries that joined the EU in May this year. The memorandum stands to benefit the Baltic states general population by facilitating the gradual spread of ORTs expertise in scientific, technological and vocational training and education from its current focus on the Jewish community in Vilnius into the general, national community. The agreement, which is automatically renewable after two years, commits both parties to collaborate on the introduction of the latest technologies in the educational process, the upgrading of vocational qualifications for teachers and on the use of information technologies to help inculcate the principles of tolerance among young people. Mr Singer told journalists: ORT can help Lithuania be ready for the European market because were a worldwide organisation with 125 years experience behind us. What ORT can offer is 16,000 people working for us who speak different languages and are very flexible. We can see whats needed and provide it. Currently ORT has a technical centre at the Sholom Aleichem Jewish School in Vilnius, whose principal Misha Jakobas also attended the signing ceremony. The centre, inaugurated in 2002, provides computer literacy courses for adults and has 249 students in grades 1 to 12. The courses offered include computer science, computer graphics, programming and web design, office technology, and a comprehensive Jewish syllabus. The ORT Technical Centre marks the resumption of ORTs activities in Lithuania after a break of more than 50 years. ORTs activities in Lithuania began in 1920 and flourished until World War II, its final activities in the Kovno Ghetto destroyed with the ghettos liquidation in July 1944.