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02 Aug 2013 17:06 Age: 5 yrs
Category: News Update, Latin America

ORT students face the future with confidence

Hundreds of young people in the northern and southern hemispheres are embarking on the next stage of their lives with confidence thanks to their ORT education.


One of two groups of ORT Uruguay University students which have formally graduated in recent ceremonies.

In France, the network of six ORT schools has once again emerged from the exam season with results comfortably above the national average. While in Montevideo, ORT Uruguay University has held two of the three graduation ceremonies it has had to schedule for this year to cope with its ever increasing number of students.

ORT France’s senior management has wished its 964 high school and post-high school graduates a very happy summer vacation, proudly noting that the 91 per cent pass rate among Baccalauréat (high school matriculation) students had once again easily beaten the national average of 85 per cent.

“We are also grateful to the pedagogical and administrative staff for the quality of their work, for their devotion and for their commitment to upholding the values and principles which have enabled such excellent results,” an ORT France spokesman said.

ORT France is particularly proud that 22 students who had gone through its two-year preparatory course at Strasbourg to compete for places at elite “Grandes Ecoles” universities had won places. The course is the only one in France which does not have classes on Shabbat and so is the only avenue for more observant Jews to enter the establishments which produce a vastly disproportionate number of France's high-ranking civil servants, politicians and executives, as well as many scientists, writers and philosophers.

The overall figures may be very good but behind them lie some truly staggering results: Lyon enjoyed 100 per cent pass rates in its scientific and technical Baccalauréat streams; Marseille celebrated 100 per cent success in its social science and science Baccalauréats; Montreuil scored a perfect result in its dentistry Baccalauréat; Strasbourg hit 100 per cent in its science and technology Baccalauréat and in its post-high school fashion design diploma courses; at Toulouse, all students sitting Baccalauréats in science and technology, industrial technology and professional skills passed as did all those sitting its post-high school business studies diploma; and perfect pass rates were recorded in Villiers-le-Bel’s management and scientific Baccalauréats.

Elio Lumbroso, Director of Development at the Montreuil school, said the results reflected a steady improvement over recent years and predicted the trend would continue.

“Ninety-five per cent of our students are Jewish. They like that we follow the Hebrew calendar so Shabbat and chagim are not a problem, and they feel safer in a Jewish environment. But they also know that ORT offers a good quality education and that we are highly regarded in professional circles,” Mr Lumbroso said.

ORT France’s reputation means that Montreuil has not had a problem attracting firms to participate in its new, five-year chartered accountancy Master’s degree, an extension of its existing two- and three-year programmes.

“In the last two years of the course students spend alternate weeks in an accountancy firm and in school. They are paid – but they don’t get any school holidays,” Mr Lumbroso said. “We have plenty of accountancy firms who want our students so it’s easy for us to find partners.”

Another new course teaching internet professions is due to open next year as the demand for people with web marketing and other skills increases. At the same time, the demand within the Jewish community for careers as electricians has dwindled so the Baccalauréat course that has set generations of young people on that career path is due to be replaced by one specialising in digital and electronic systems.

New courses are a feature at ORT Uruguay, too. Dr Jorge Grunberg, Rector of the university which is ranked among the world’s top 500 tertiary institutions, told one of two graduation ceremonies in recent days that the International Association of MBAs had accredited their New Masters in Business Administration – one of only a handful of such degree programmes in the region to achieve such recognition. And next year, he said, the Engineering faculty would open Uruguay’s first biotechnology engineering course.

These advances come as the university celebrates the 25th anniversary of what was a huge innovation in its day: the founding of the university’s Faculty of Management and Social Sciences.

“It was our first real step towards adopting a university structure – until then we were into computers and electronics only,” Dr Grunberg said. “It was important for ORT but it was also important for Uruguay. The concept of the faculty was very foreign to our country then; it was a big step in the modernisation of Uruguay.”

Underpinning the innovations, however, is a constant adherence to ORT’s values.

“Since ORT Uruguay’s origins as a technical school 71 years ago, the world and our country have changed but we continue to pursue our mission with an immutable spirit,” he told the graduation ceremony. “We are a private institution but with a public mission which is to expand educational opportunities for Uruguayans. This year we continue our effort to glimpse the future because a university should be an antenna that connects to a partnership with the changes which are beyond the horizon.”

Among those who have benefited from ORT Uruguay’s expansion of education opportunities is Pablo Pirotto. The son of a policeman in San Ramon, a town of 7,000 souls in the south of Uruguay, Pablo won a competition organised by the university and the top prize of a full scholarship to study industrial design at ORT.

Diagnosed with diabetes 10 years ago, Pablo exemplifies the phrase with which he concluded his graduation address: effort and will is the perfect combination for success in life. But it was to ORT that he directed his praise.

“In these years [as undergraduates] we have grown as professionals but, above all, as people,” he said. “And we did it here in what has become something of a second home to us – ORT. Here, we have been guided wisely, always surrounded by great people who have imbued us with solid values in order to become what we are today: good professionals with a strong sense of ethics and morality.”

The practical importance of those values was stressed by architecture graduate Valeria Rohrer.

“A constant motivation in all areas of my life is the conviction that the values instilled in me by my family and this university are the most important tools… Values such as modesty, respect and tolerance make us professionals who are open minded, open to an enriching interaction with other technical fields and especially to teamwork. In the case of architects, empathy allows us to build on a human scale. I propose, therefore that we align our practice with our values…. When you consider how long a person lives and that we have spent only five or six years learning here you realise that there is still a lot to learn – and we now have the tools to do so. We have learned the value of experience, to be observers, to be critical, to probe. We have been given the tools to develop ourselves professionally. So, today, we graduate in the knowledge that this is only the beginning…”