Update: July 2020

 

Covid-19 Response Update ORT has the fortitude – built on our experience, expertise, and global support – to bridge the education gap and provide underserved communities with transformative opportunities to build a better future, even in turbulent times.

 

ORT’s educational network has had to make significant adjustments to respond to the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19. At the onset of global school closures in March, ORT rapidly mobilized to ensure our 300,000-plus beneficiaries in Israel, the Former Soviet Union, Latin America, Asia, South Africa, and Europe had the resources and support they needed to transition to distance learning. Since March ORT has addressed a wide range of needs including:

  • Providing 217 computers and tablets to students and teachers in Russia, Ukraine, Milan, Rome, Madrid, Bulgaria, Moldova, and Israel, as well as providing schools with the necessary IT infrastructure to remain connected with home-schooling students.
  • Supporting hundreds of students in Brazil, Milan, Rome, and France whose families have been severely impacted financially as a result of Covid-19 by covering tuition fees, canteen, and security contributions as needed.
  • Ongoing consultation with school leadership to assist in the development and implementation of distance learning plans
  • Online professional development and teacher training seminars based on the specific needs of schools, in their local language

ORT Student Successes

 

ORT’s unique international competitions continued virtually to engage students in educational programs that advance their skills and abilities and prepare them for a global marketplace. They have excelled and shown initiative in Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) through the following award-winning projects:

  • ORT students from Colegio Israelita de México ORT (CIM-ORT) took first place in the World ORT Gina and Joseph Harmatz Award for Social Responsibility, for applying the design and technology skills they learned at school to create a prosthetic arm for a boy in need. The students also created a personalized prosthesis for a 16-year-old with Down’s Syndrome. The award recognizes students for making an outstanding contribution to Tikkun Olam – our shared responsibility to heal, repair, and transform the world.
     
  • Two innovative eco-friendly projects shared first prize in the 2019-20 Taub Young Entrepreneurship Program(YEP) competition. YEP participants work in small teams to design a product which solves a social problem. Teens from the Scuola Della Comunita Ebraica in Milan devised a crowd-based shipping platform and a team from Colegio Israelita de México ORT (CIM-ORT) in Mexico City created reusable smart gift bags which allow users to track the number of trees they have saved by not using wrapping paper. Students said continuing YEP remotely during school closures gave them renewed enthusiasm for their schoolwork as they applied their STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills to real-life challenges.
     
  •  Students from the ORT Mishpateinu School in Kazan were featured on local television for their initiative, ‘We Are with You,” which raised the spirits of health care workers tackling Covid-19. The student's artwork expressing their gratitude for the efforts of medical professionals was displayed at Kazan’s main hospital.

Educator’s Forum

 

In May, ORT held a virtual Educators’ Forum which brought together more than 60 senior educators from 17 countries, representing dozens of ORT schools. Educators focused on lessons from the pandemic and the ways education can be reshaped by this experience. ORT leadership also considered the needs of educators and schools for the 2020-21 academic school year. Two areas of need identified were: 1) the need for academic support for high school seniors when they return to school so they can pass critical exams and graduate and 2) the need for safe transportation to school for students and teachers. ORT will continue to adapt its response to address the changing environments in which our network schools are operating.

 

Kfar Silver Youth Village, Israel

 

World ORT Kadima Mada, ORT’s operational arm in Israel, has dramatically enhanced the Kfar Silver Youth Village by investing in its educational programs and physical facilities to provide Israel’s most at-risk students with excellent STEM education and an environment in which they can succeed. The rural boarding school in the south of Israel, owned and operated by ORT, has 691 students in grades 7 to 12 and 214 students live at Kfar Silver full-time. Kfar Silver offers a unique educational environment including a dairy and agricultural farm, with hands-on academic and emotional support that enables students to overcome challenges and lead lives of purpose.

Kfar Silver students who experienced difficulties acclimating to the school’s advanced STEM education receive additional academic support. This school year, students in the 10th-12th grades who were most at risk of failing their physics and chemistry bagrut (matriculation exams) were provided with supplementary tutoring hours in a supportive small group setting. The students reported increased confidence in their ability to grasp advanced STEAM subjects, and were prepared to take their exams.