ORT is one of the largest non-governmental education and training organisations in the world, with past and present activities in over 100 countries. A non-profit, non-political organisation, ORT’s objective is to meet the educational and vocational requirements of diverse students throughout the world. During the year 2004, ORT educated or trained almost 300,000 students in its network of programmes, training centres and schools.World ORT is responsible for coordinating the international activities of its associate bodies, the National ORT Organisations that span five continents.
World ORT is incorporated in Geneva, Switzerland, with main administrative offices in London.
ORT was founded in St Petersburg in Tsarist Russia in 1880 to provide employable skills for impoverished people in Russia. The letters O-R-T form the Russian interpret as "Obschestvo Remeslenovo i Zemledelcheskovo Trouda", meaning Organization for the Distribution of Artisanal and Agricultural Skills. This reflects the conditions that prevailed when ORT was conceived, when the acquisition of agricultural and manual skills were the key to employment.
Since that time, the skills taught by ORT have evolved in step with technology. Today, in place of manual skills and trades, ORT teaches its students about computers, telecommunications and their applications.
ORT builds schools, develops curricula, sets up laboratories, develops high-tech educational systems, produces hardware, software and courseware and other teaching aids. It conducts its own educational research and acts as consultant to many other institutions, including government bodies. ORT co-operates with industry and is supported by an international membership in excess of a quarter of a million people.
The aim of ORT's educational programmes, throughout the world, is to give its students the best possible preparation for their future. This preparation includes education to help them become citizens who will make a positive contribution to their society, focused training to enable them to undertake worthwhile and fulfilling careers, and the knowledge that will give them an understanding and appreciation of their heritage.