ORT in South Africa

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ORT in South Africa was created in 1936. Leon Bramson first visited South Africa in 1927 and then returned to organise a campaign on behalf of the United Committee of ORT-OSE-Emigdirect in 1933. In 1936, Dr Syngalowski spent a whole year in South Africa, consolidating ORT’s position in the country and setting up local committees. At the end of his visit the first formal conference of the South African ORT-OZE took place in Johannesburg on 21 March 1937.

Between 1940 and 1950, the ORT Occupational Bureau in Johannesburg and its branch in Cape Town counselled and placed some 1,200 individuals in 80 different trades. South African ORT has conducted a farming centre for Jewish youths, which also provided a Hechalutz programme for those planning to go to Israel. It also maintained an ORT Bursary Trust which provided scholarships to individuals wishing to study at technical colleges and universities and whose parents were unable to assume the expense.

In the following decades ORT South Africa continued to operate as a fundraising organisation which collected money for ORT projects worldwide. During the 1990s it expanded its operations and became a self-funded service provider, working with the local Jewish community as well as the wider South African population. In 1993, as part of the ORT Step project, ORT South Africa began training teachers in mathematics, science and technology in Midrand, Cape Town and Grahamstown. With the advent of non-racial democracy, ORT South Africa’s fundraising has supported its own projects helping disadvantaged communities in and around Cape Town and Johannesburg.

ORT’s work in South Africa empowers teachers and improves literacy in townships, encourages budding entrepreneurs and provides job search skills and guidance. Hundreds of people in South Africa today find jobs and build their own businesses thanks to ORT.