Background on ORT
World ORT is one of the largest non-governmental education and training organisations in the world, with past and present activities in over 100 countries. Through its network of programmes, training centres and schools, World ORT trains around 270,000 annually. It is a private, not-for-profit organisation, which meets the educational and manpower training needs of contemporary society. It maintains a non-sectarian, non-political position in its education and training provision.
ORT was founded in St Petersburg in Tsarist Russia in 1880 to provide employable skills for Russia’s impoverished Jewish people. The letters O-R-T form the Russian acronym for Obschestvo Remeslenovo i zemledelcheskovo Trouda, meaning ‘The Society for Handicrafts and Agricultural Work’. This reflects the conditions that prevailed when ORT was conceived, when the acquisition of agricultural and manual skills were the key to employment.
Since that time, the skills taught by ORT have evolved in step with technology. Today, in place of manual skills and trades, ORT teaches its students about computers, telecommunications and their applications.
ORT builds schools, develops curricula, sets up laboratories, develops high-tech educational systems, produces hardware, software and courseware and other teaching aids and publications. It conducts its own educational research and acts as consultant to many other institutions, including government bodies. ORT co-operates with industry and is supported by an international membership in excess of a quarter of a million people.
ORT has consultative status for information and education purposes with UNESCO, and observer status at the ILO (International Labor Organization). ORT is a founding member of ICVA (International Council of Voluntary Agencies).
The aim of ORT’s educational programmes, throughout the world, is to give its students the best possible preparation for their future. This preparation includes education to help them become citizens who will make a positive contribution to their society, focused training to enable them to undertake worthwhile and fulfilling careers, and – for its Jewish students – the knowledge that will give them an understanding and appreciation of their heritage.
ORT in the CIS
ORT finally returned to Russia, the country of its birth, in 1991 after an enforced absence of 53 years. Today, the ORT network in the CIS is considered by the local authorities to include the finest educational establishments available in the region. The opening of the ORT Technology School in Moscow, inaugurated in 1995, was quickly followed by other ORT schools and centers in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Odessa, Yekaterinburg, Samara, Kazan, Kiev and Dnepropetrovsk. Today, ORT has about 30,000 students throughout the CIS and Baltic States.
In its activities within the CIS and Baltic States, ORT retains close contacts with government authorities and central education management bodies. In 1993, a collaboration agreement was signed with the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation, in 1996 with the Ministry of Education of Ukraine, and further agreements were signed at government level with the Russian Federation in 1999, with Ukraine in 2000, with Moldova in 2001 and Belarus in 2002.
World ORT and ORT International Cooperation. Overview.