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ORT and ORT SA’s Mission to Uplift Education and Teach Relevant Skills (Like Coding) to the Youth

How can we make today’s education curriculum relevant and up to date? 

Some argue that while the many industrial revolutions and overall technological advancement have changed the way we do business, the education sector hasn’t caught up. When one enters a classroom today, it’s not too different from how (and what) we taught the youth in the 19th century when they were entering manufacturing and production driven workplaces.

The History of ORT

That’s why ORT, an educational NGO, was established in the midst of the 2nd Industrial Revolution. The goal has always been to evolve the nature and methods of education delivery so that they stay aligned with the technological changes facing our societies. 

When ORT was established in 1880, it catered to the needs of the community and the job place, providing handicraft, agricultural and vocational training. It included courses such as teaching grain sifting, using knitting machines, auto mechanics and engineering courses. ORT’s goal has never changed, and to this day it remains to ensure the financial sustainability of communities, through education and skills development.  ORT, through its 140 years has established schools and operations in over 60 countries specialising in STEM education and promoting entrepreneurship. 

So when one wonders how to go about education in light of the transformation brought about by the 4th Industrial Revolution, it is natural to look at the worldwide network of ORT. Many schools in ORT’s network have incorporated coding and digital skills in their curriculum, enabling project-based learning through the incorporation of design thinking and problem-solving. 

ORT in South Africa (ORT SA)

In South Africa, ORT SA has rolled out coding clubs in government schools attended by thousands of learners and assisted with building the educational capacity of hundreds of teachers since 2015. We teach people how to code, think analytically and think critically, along with technical skills relevant to today’s job market. Learning coding languages, application and website development also encourages teamwork, collaboration and finding solutions to community challenges proactively and innovatively.

To get education relevant and up to date, we need to transform the way we teach and adjust the curriculum we teach to our new generations accordingly. Coding and digital skills must become part and parcel of our curriculum, ensuring our youth are ready for the digital workplace. 

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This article was written by Ariellah Rosenberg, ORT SA CEO