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World ORT, JDC, and AJC cooperation in Kosovo

Last updated: 2003-07-10

World ORT, the American Joint Distribution Committee, and the American Jewish Committee have completed an important educational project for deprived ethnic Albanian communities in Kosovo.

At the school graduation ceremony in June, attended by more than 200 students of English, Dr. Gideon Meyer, Deputy Director General of World ORT said, “Over my long career with ORT I have visited many schools, laboratories, and graduation ceremonies. In Kosovo, however, I saw firsthand the hope of those underprivileged Muslim and Serb graduates that has resulted from the special assistance they have received from the Jewish people. Something I feel to be unique”.

Started in 1999, over 6,000 adults and children have studied computing, English and vocational subjects in laboratories and classrooms maintained by the three organisations. The project affirms the necessity for ORT to continue educating and training disadvantaged people all over the world.

In 1999 Eli Eliezri, representing World ORT and the JDC in Kosovo, discovered a severe lack of educational establishments there. After meeting with government representatives, two disused schools were reopened and former teachers reappointed. Using the schools as models for an education system in Kosovo, the government requested that ORT take over Pristina’s 14 schools. Each was equipped with computer laboratories and staffed with teachers who were given appropriate training. Courses offered included English, computer studies, welding, sewing and mechanics, at the end of which students were examined and presented with an ORT diploma. Despite 85% unemployment in Kosovo, many of ORT’s graduates have now found employment, and some have opened successful businesses.

In addition to the schools, ORT, the JDC and the AJC have established a state of the art computer lab in the Mitrovica cultural centre under the supervision of Eli Eliezri. In a city divided by the River Ibar into separate sections for the Serbs and the Albanians, Eliezri has successfully convinced both Serbians and Albanians to use the computer lab together, in a unique show of unity.