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ORT SA educates for life

  • Barry Dwolatzky jpg
“Our primary function should be to focus on getting businesses online and familiar with the digital world,” said Professor Barry Dwolatzky, the director of the Joburg Centre for Software Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand, pointing out that digital transformation has been fast-tracked by COVID-19.
by OWN CORRESPONDENT | Oct 08, 2020

Dwolatzky delivered the keynote speech to the recent ORT SA biennial general meeting (BGM) 2020, which was hosted successfully online for the first time.

Themed “Honouring our legacy, reshaping the future”, the BGM focused on ORT SA’s success in rising to the challenge of moving from traditional classroom teaching to online methods. Dan Green, World ORT chief executive, Chief Rabbi Dr Warren Goldstein, and Israeli ambassador Lior Keinan, also addressed attendees.

“The current situation in the world and the coronavirus pandemic has to lead us into unprecedented times,” said Dwolatzky, who has recently joined the ORT SA NEC Board, talking about the current and future workplace. “Not only have we been thrust into a new way of learning and teaching, we have also had to adopt a new way of thinking in our daily lives and everyday business routines. Coronavirus forced companies to allow their employees to work remotely from home or be shut down. While most companies went the route of #WFH, some companies were unable to do so and after many years of providing a service or product, have shut down.”

ORT SA’s commendable achievements were acknowledged by the ORT SA NEC committee and supportive World ORT members.

“I have been inspired by this community for making it through this year, which truly shows the greatness of the human spirit,” said Goldstein. “The work that ORT and ORT Jet does is so important by giving people skills, knowledge, and insight to improve themselves. This is true empowerment. Helping others to reach their full potential and contribute to the economy – this comes from education. It has been an honour to be associated with this organisation,” Goldstein said.

World ORT’s Green and Rabbi Craig Kacev, the general director of the South African Board of Jewish Education (SABJE), announced the permanent affiliation of the SABJE to World ORT.

“ORT has over the past years been a faithful and dedicated partner of Jewish education,” Kacev said. “King David, Herzlia, and the other Jewish schools have benefitted from the organisation’s guidance in technology education, teacher training, and outreach and upliftment initiatives to fellow South Africans.

“The move to a permanent affiliation is an honour,” said Kacev, “one which the SABJE will ensure is nurtured for the mutual benefit and synergy of the SABJE and ORT.”

Said Green, “Two of the pillars of World ORT today are tikkun olam – repairing the world – which I’m sure you are all familiar with and tikkun am, which is essentially the creative and significant flourishing of the Jewish people. I can’t think of a better example where these two philosophies reside together with such tremendous results than in ORT SA.”

Talking about World ORT’s vision of educating for life, Green said, “If someone has been blessed with more, then they have the privilege and responsibility of helping someone who has less. The point is to help them to become independent, to giving them life skills. We all know about teaching a man or woman to fish. The most important thing is to give someone dignity, to give someone the ability and opportunity to make something of themselves.”

Ariellah Rosenberg, the chief executive of ORT SA, was commended by Green for her tremendous leadership, courage, and dedication to the vision of World ORT.

“COVID-19 and lockdown implications worldwide have demonstrated the opportunities for disruption in education and schooling. It’s the perfect timing to formalise the affiliation of the SABJE to World ORT. World ORT is known for its cutting-edge technology in education and worldwide network of schools. I therefore envisage collaboration and interventions that promote 21st century skills, project-based learning that develops analytical and investigative skills and, most importantly, the connection with people to enhance the social and emotional intelligence of our youth,” said Rosenberg.

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