La Enseñanza – A cornerstone in Barranquilla, celebrating its 75th


Originally established in Bogota and Medellin, and then brought to Barranquilla in 1941, La Enseñanza is a Catholic girls’ school which has been serving the city of Barranquilla for 75 years. Striving for individual growth, the mission of this school is focused on offering a Christian education which encompasses the values and spirituality of the Santa Juana de Lestonnac style, where individual development centers on the concept of finding ways to improve the lives of all humanity.

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Photo: Michael Becerra

La Enseñanza’s history in Barranquilla has a very interesting story which truly embodies the solidity of character with which the school tries to imbue within its pupils. Incredibly, the school’s history is connected to Edith Munarriz Steffens, who in 1950 was the Queen of Carnaval. Depressed with her life as a socialite, partying all hours, drinking and smoking, Edith found God and made the bold decision to change her life completely and become a nun.

La Ensenanza 2
Stained glass adorns the ceiling. Photo: Michael Becerra

From that day until her death in 1999, she dedicated her life to God, working tirelessly through the Sisters of the Order of Maria to improve the lives of tens if not hundreds of thousands of Barranquilleros, especially in the neighborhood known today as Las Malvinas.

When she passed away at the turn of the century, with no children to speak of, her sizable family estate became the property of the Order of Maria, and with it, they built Colegio Distrital Lestonnac, which provides quality education to hundreds of impoverished students in the neighborhood of El Bosque.

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A seating area. Photo: Michael Becerra

We had a chance to speak with some of the students at La Enseñanza and here is what they had to say:

Paula – “I’ve really learned about leadership and about finding ways to help other people.  I’ve also learned to overcome my fears.”

Karla – “Playing this role has strengthened my faith in God.” Karla is playing Edith in Wednesday’s play. She has been very successful so far in life and received many votes for this event.

The school’s rector, Gustavo, talked to us about the school’s vision and how he characterizes their contribution to both the local community and education in general. He spoke about the school’s long history as a leader in the Christian community. Of particular import for the curriculum at La Enseñanza is the development of the whole self – creating students who are centered.

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In a former life, Mike was a corporate project manager in Canadian telecom. For the last 6 years, he has been traveling around Latin America, teaching English and writing. Mike now lives with his partner in beautiful Barranquilla.