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23 Aug 2013 12:37 Age: 5 yrs
Category: News Update, Latin America

“Action Man” Malajovich honoured as ORT Brazil marks 70 years of excellence

The 70th anniversary celebrations at ORT Brazil have got off to a great start with the organisation’s National Director, Dr Hugo Malajovich, being named a Man of Action, Man of Valour by the Rio de Janeiro Jewish community.


Professor Ilana Strozenberg and Dr Hugo Malajovich at the Man of Action, Man of Valour award ceremony.

Dr Malajovich and his wife, biotechnologist Dr Maria Antonia Malajovich, have been at the forefront of ORT Brazil since 1976 after being forced from their native Argentina (where he had held senior positions at ORT Argentina) by the military regime. In a sign of the much changed times, Argentina’s Consul in Rio, Marcelo Bertoldi, attended the ceremony.

He was one of nine men honoured by the community for their extraordinary commitment to and achievement in their respective fields of expertise.

In his acceptance speech, Hugo noted that he had stubbornly persisted in introducing and broadening the teaching of technology and science.

“In the 1970s ORT was pioneering computer science and programming and helped to install laboratories in other schools,” he told the audience. “Then we introduced robotics, biotechnology, environmental education, and brought in technology to elementary education.”

Since the 1990s, he has championed the transformation of ORT schools from industrial vocational schools to specialise in scientific and technological subjects.

“Now we see that STEM education – the teaching of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – is a worldwide trend. It is the hot topic of education today,” he said.

The late co-founder and past President of ORT Brazil, Samuel Malamud, was instrumental in bringing the Malajoviches to Rio de Janeiro four years before his decade-long stint as Vice-President of World ORT.

After arriving in Brazil as a teenager, Mr Malamud completed his education and developed parallel careers in law and journalism. In 1943, together with the Klabin family, he founded ORT Brazil to help Jewish refugees acquire the sought after skills that would bring them financial security in their new home.

The ORT school in Sao Paulo was officially recognised on August 18, 1947, meaning its diplomas were now equivalent to those issued by state schools. Two years later, similar recognition was extended to the ORT trade school in Rio de Janeiro, too. Both schools offered four-year courses in machine shop work and tool making. The Sao Paulo school closed in the 1950s but the school in Rio expanded and is now officially ranked among the top schools in the country with a particularly strong reputation in biotechnology.

Mr Malamud’s daughter, acclaimed anthropologist Professor Ilana Strozenberg, addressed the Man of Action, Man of Valour ceremony.

She highlighted Hugo’s work as director and also his partnership with Maria, “a great woman who, unlike the well-known maxim, is not behind Hugo but alongside him”.

Argentina’s loss was Brazil’s gain, she said.

“Since his arrival, Hugo, through his competence and hard work, founded on a sincere commitment in the transformative power of education, has played a key role in the development and continuity of the ORT Institute of Technology. During my father’s time and now, under the presidency of Armando Klabin, he has collaborated decisively in the restructuring, modernization and expansion of ORT Brazil, transforming the technical school into a school of science and technology – and which is considered one of the best in Rio de Janeiro,” she said.

World ORT’s Acting Director General and CEO, Sonia Gomes de Mesquita, congratulated Hugo.

“This is well-deserved recognition of Hugo’s decades of hard work and outstanding professionalism during which he has advanced science education and repeatedly raised the bar of academic expectation and achievement. Thanks to Hugo and Maria Antonia, ORT Brazil is at the forefront of teaching biotechnology. On behalf of everyone at World ORT, congratulations!”