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12 Nov 2014 18:30 Age: 3 yrs
Category: News Update

ORT’s teachers prepare students for opportunities beyond the horizon

Without the ability to adapt to fast paced technological change today’s students will find themselves marginalised socially and economically in the years ahead, warns Ivailo Ivanov, an ICT teacher at the Lauder-ORT School in Sofia.


Ivailo Ivanov with students in the ORT Media Centre at the Lauder-ORT School in Sofia.

Mr Ivanov, R&D Manager of the school’s ORT Media Centre, was invited to take part in a special schools edition of the NMC Horizon Report, the annual report produced in partnership with the European Commission which identifies emerging technologies that are likely to have a significant impact on education. The report can be seen here: http://cdn.nmc.org/media/2014-nmc-horizon-report-EU-EN.pdf

“Its main conclusion is that everything changes very quickly and very dramatically and if people don’t have the ability to quickly adapt to new technology they will be out of work and our of modern life,” he said.

A study released this week by Deloitte and Oxford University lends weight to his words: it predicts that technology, automation and robotics will cause a significant shift in the UK labour market over the next 20 years with more than one-third of existing jobs at risk of being replaced. A similar study conducted last year in the United States of America estimated that nearly half that country’s workforce was threatened by automation. On the up side, there will be a greater need for highly skilled people in computing, engineering, science and other fields.

“Unless these changes coming in the next two decades are fully understood and anticipated by businesses, policy makers and educators, there will be a risk of avoidable unemployment and under-employment. A widening gap between ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ is also a risk as lower skill jobs continue to disappear,” a Deloitte spokesman said.

ORT has long understood and anticipated these changes – and the Lauder-ORT School, which is the fruit of collaboration between World ORT, the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation and the Bulgarian education authorities, is a good example of how we are preparing students for precisely this scenario. This was also the theme of last week’s World ORT Hatter Technology Seminar, which brought together 19 educators from 10 countries in London.

“We start robotics at primary school level and continue technology education through the middle and high schools,” Mr Ivanov said. “We give our students every type of ICT education; we give them the big picture so that after school they can choose which aspect of ICT they want to follow.”

Mr Ivanov was one of 53 top educational researchers and practitioners from across Europe selected to produce the Horizon Report which is highly regarded by governments and the education sector.

“It was very interesting working with so many people from around the world,” Mr Ivanov said. “It was an opportunity for me to learn about all types of technology, some of which was very new to me.”

The Head of World ORT’s Education Department, Daniel Tysman, said: “Ivailo is a real powerhouse at the ORT Technology Centre at the Lauder-ORT School and his dedication to his work has brought him much recognition locally. We’re delighted that his expertise is now being recognised on the European stage.”

Mr Ivanov’s expertise and skill is by no means unique at the Lauder-ORT School, said ORT Bulgaria Chair Dr Emil Kalo.

“All the teachers are very impressive. They are not just highly educated, ORT gives them opportunities to develop personally and professionally so that they can be the best teachers. World ORT’s international seminars are an extremely important part of this because they are a way for people to compare their strengths and weaknesses with peers from around the world; it’s a personal evaluation. But the most important thing is that the children love them; they succeed in involving the kids in the process of creation and education,” Dr Kalo said. “However, I am subjective, you should ask outsiders.”

ORT America National President Linda Kirschbaum led the recent ORT America mission which visited the Lauder-ORT School on the way back to the United States from Israel.

“Bulgaria has the lowest socio-economic status of all of the European Union countries, and a declining Jewish community. The Lauder-ORT School is truly a shining beacon of hope, with advanced classroom technology and Hebrew/Jewish culture taught to each student. At ORT global training programmes, teachers learn how to use these technologies and make the classroom experience meaningful to their students. We were impressed and touched by the tremendous impact one school can have. The combination of dedicated teachers and administrators and motivated students made all of us so proud of ORT’s role in this isolated Jewish community,” Ms Kirschbaum said.