Colegio Colombo Hebreo in Bogotá has just been added to the ORT global network as an affiliated school. The new ORT affiliation will benefit the school from academic and pedagogical perspectives and enhance its prestige in the local community.
Founded in 1968, Colegio Columbo Hebreo is celebrating its 70th anniversary. It has 250 students enrolled in kindergarten to twelfth grade, with a desirable ratio of teachers to students at 1:6, enabling personalized oversight of students, and it is generally ranked as one of the top 50 schools out of 13,000 in Columbia. It is the main source of Jewish education in the Bogotá Jewish community.
Jorge A. Mejía González, the principal, is very happy about the ORT affiliation. “About 90% of the students in our school are Jewish. The possibility for our students to connect with other Jewish students around the world is important because the Bogotá Jewish community is very small. By joining ORT, our students can meet other Jewish students. It is vital for the future of Jewish leadership in Bogotá that our students get to know people from all around the world.”
Opportunities for students and teachers
Daniel Tysman, World ORT Director of Education, mentions a significant aspect of Colegio. “It is considered quite innovative compared to other schools in Colombia, with a philosophy of ‘educating for understanding’ that translates into a lot of project-based learning, problem solving, and integrated multi-disciplinary learning,” he relates. Principal González cites the advantages of the ORT affiliation, with an emphasis on the academic component. “It will help us with opportunities, like the World ORT Ecología Summer School in Panama or other ORT programmes for our students; with development training for our teachers; with ideas on how to implement academic processes and methodologies, and how to deal with ever-changing technology,” he says.
STEM in schools
World ORT has never wavered from its mission to light the path to prosperous living via education. Through decades of providing instruction and resources relevant to the dynamics of each era for people to become self-sufficient, ORT has evolved into a global education network focused on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. The recent ORT Hatter seminar for twenty educators from nine countries dealt with the rapidly evolving technology landscape and the fourth industrial revolution.
Principal González recognizes the importance of a robust STEM program, its challenges and the potential value of ORT vis-à-vis STEM. “You cannot be a competitive school without STEM. However, you have two challenges: how to implement it in terms of infrastructure, so all students are in touch with technology and science; and how to make it interesting.” He sees ORT as providing valuable input in this area. “ORT schools implement technology, and we can benefit from their experience,” he says.
New pedagogical insight
Colegio has been associated with ORT for a few years: Colegio staff have been working in collaboration with staff of ORT Argentina, recently implementing the Jewish history program from that country. Colegio teachers discussed curricula and pedagogical methods with their ORT counterparts in Argentina as well. Principal González is keen on learning from other ORT schools, confident the ORT connections will help the school advance its activities and provide opportunities to its students. He also touched on the importance of instilling good values. “We have three basic Jewish values in our school: respect, responsibility, and empathy,” he said. “This is not something you teach per se; it is something you develop over the years and it has to do with how you relate to people, how you relate to other cultures, how you assume responsibility for your own learning. The example given by ORT schools around the world helps us in this sense,” he affirmed. It is exciting to welcome Colegio Columbo Hebreo to the ORT family, and include Columbia in the global scope of ORT operations.