Tailor’s tape measure, belonged to R. AltfeldienėPhotograph by P. Račiūnas, J. Rozinas’ personal property
First page of the Lithuanian weekly Amatininkas (Tradesman), 1935, No 5.After the opening of a new modern vocational school the newspaper ran an article praising the ambition of ORT – Lithuanians still did not have school like this. Among other issues the article raises the question: what should a contemporary tradesman look like?
ORT Kaunas [Kovno] secondary vocational schoolA vocational school with Yiddish as the language of instruction was opened in Kaunas in December 1921, in a two-storey brick building owned by the Jewish community (Italijos St., today A. Mackevičiaus St.). First, a metalworking class was opened, followed by sewing and electrical engineering classes. There were teaching laboratories where students were not only trained practically but also took in orders from city factories to make various metal objects and instruments.Studies lasted three years. However, in 1932, in order to receive support from the Ministry of Education, the school was reorganised according to the general requirements for Lithuanian vocational schools: it was granted the rights of a secondary vocational school and the study period was extended to four years. The school was maintained by ORT, the Ministry of Education and Kaunas city municipality. Medical help for the students was provided by the Society for the Protection of the Health of the Jewish Population (OZE). The main sources of income for the school were factory orders. This was used to acquire the necessary instruments and materials.The school also ran evening courses for working artisans wishing to improve their skills. For example, in 1925 evening courses for adults, taught, just as daytime courses, mathematics, geometry, physics, chemistry, technical drawing, machine science, Yiddish and Lithuanian and other subjects.In the autumn of 1940, at the beginning of the first Soviet occupation (ORT activities had been stopped by then) private vocational schools were closed and state ones established. The ORT secondary vocational school became Kaunas No 4 state vocational school with Yiddish as the language of instruction and the same classes.
ORT Lithuania Chairman Matijus Soloveičikas' report about the address of the vocational school and its office as well as the society's committee members, 1928. LCVA
Graph showing the growth in student numbers at ORT Kaunas, 1932-1940. The number of students was on the increase, especially in 1939 when teenagers, whose families had retreated from the Klaipėda area occupied by the Nazis, enrolled at the school. In 1939 and 1940, 260 future craftsmen studied the following trades: metalworking - 150 boys (5 classes), electrical engineering - 35 boys (2 classes) and dressmaking - 75 girls (4 classes).