The ORT Sholom Aleichem School has been named the most modern school in Lithuania in an annual survey published by the country’s education magazine, Reitingai.
It is the first time that the magazine’s authoritative rankings of the Baltic State’s top 50 of the country’s 400 high schools has included such a category. The school also excelled in physics, coming fourth in the country.
To arrive at its decision, the magazine consulted with municipalities to assess the level and use of technology and, according to a report by the TV3 commercial channel, came to the conclusion that the ORT school is “state of the art”.
“Technology is important, it helps the general development of the children – in this modern age children will go further if they can practise what they’re learning, if they can feel and touch what we’re talking about in class,” said school principal Misha Jakobas. “And we have all of this equipment thanks to ORT. ORT is the reason we’ve become the most modern school in Lithuania.”
Already, in 2008, the ORT school was being ranked in the top 10 schools in Vilnius. Then it only had 275 students in an old building. Since 2015, however, it has enjoyed the superb facilities of a much larger, thoroughly refurbished building at a centrally located site.
When it re-opened at the new site, Mr Jakobas said the school – the result of cooperation between the local Jewish community, municipality and World ORT – would concentrate on innovation and incentives.
“We will be a place of pride for Lithuania, its educational system and for all the people of Vilnius,” he said.
He has been true to his word. The school is now at maximum enrolment of 400 students and there is a waiting list of people wanting to study there.
But it has not been immune to a cultural shift which Mr Jakobas blames for what has been a disappointing performance by the country’s education system overall.
“Young people are not so determined to develop their knowledge because of the hard work involved,” he said. “Our exceptional performance in physics is not only because of the modern labs we have. It’s due to our teacher, who is a PhD in the subject. Because technology isn’t everything – having good, professional and motivated teachers is very important. We have room to improve, particularly in chemistry and maths, and it would help us to meet our goals if we could offer better financial incentives to our teachers.”