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06 Dec 2012 15:15 Age: 6 yrs
Category: News Update, FSU

World ORT brings Israeli robotics know-how to Moldova

Moldova has the dubious distinction of being Europe’s poorest country but, thanks to World ORT, its capital’s only Jewish kindergarten has introduced a robotics programme which is not only unique in the republic, it’s almost unheard of in pre-schools around the world.


Kindergarten children are too busy having fun to notice the wide range of skills they are acquiring and developing with the new robotics course.

Thanks to a partnership with the Jewish Congress of Moldova and the expertise gained from World ORT’s pilot robotics programme in three Israeli kindergartens, Jewish children in Kishinev are being equipped with the technical and life skills necessary for success in the 21st century.

“The children are delighted – they took to it immediately,” said the kindergarten’s principal, Svetlana Iliadi. “For them, working with the robotics kits is like a holiday but they are actually learning to solve problems creatively, express their thoughts in a clear, logical way, to defend their point of view, to analyse situations and arrive at answers by logical reasoning. The Lego kits we use are expensive and working with them requires appropriately qualified specialists: without World ORT it would have been impossible.”

The seed of the project was planted during the visit of a World ORT delegation a year ago headed by President Emeritus Sir Maurice Hatter. Since then, World ORT staff members in Moldova have been collaborating with colleagues in Israel on how to adapt the programme underway in three kindergartens in Kiryat Yam for the needs of the Kishinev children. The Lego kits used to build the robots were unavailable in Moldova so World ORT bought them in Ukraine and imported them.

“I’m delighted that we have extended our activities beyond the walls of our high school there, the ORT Herzl Technology Lyceum,” said World ORT Representative in the CIS and Baltic States David Benish. “It’s exciting to contribute to children’s development from a very young age and to build their interest in the ever more important fields of science and technology. Also, we believe that parents will see from this project how their children can benefit from an ORT education and apply for places at the Lyceum.”

Mr Benish was joined at the formal opening of the robotics programme by the President of the Jewish Congress of Moldova, Emmanuel Grinshpun.

“We are very happy to work with World ORT on introducing this to Moldova,” Mr Grinshpun said. “We look forward to seeing how our children benefit and to the day when such courses are available to children throughout society.”

Iris Wolf, World ORT’s Pedagogic Manager in Israel, was excited by the launch of the programme in Moldova.

“It’s an amazing thing because it’s more profound than simply starting children earlier with scientific and technological learning,” Ms Wolf said. “This is about creating a whole new classroom environment in which little children work in teams, listen to each other, give feedback, understand processes, ask questions and think strategically.”

World ORT’s pilot programme in Israel is itself an extension of the pioneering work done by Professor David Mioduser, Head of Tel Aviv University’s Teaching Sciences Department, in a kindergarten in Ramat Gan.

One of World ORT’s main objectives in Israel is to increase the number of children studying science and technology in high schools but experience has shown that many decide against such subjects for no reason other than that they are unfamiliar with them. Introducing them to relevant concepts at an early age will make it easier for more of them to continue on that track as they get older.

“Our transfer of expertise from Israel to Moldova shows the value of World ORT’s international network in meeting global economic and technological challenges,” said World ORT Director General and CEO Robert Singer.

And it has furthered ORT Moldova’s success in applying technology to education, said the organisation’s entrepreneurial young President, Ilan Shor.

“ORT should be involved in precisely those areas in which our expertise can contribute to finding the best forms and methods of teaching not only high school pupils but students of all ages, religions and ethnicities,” Mr Shor said.