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  • Awarded: 2007
  • Issue Areas: Early Childhood to Primary Education · Secondary Education
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    About the Organization

    Escuela Nueva is a Colombian NGO founded in 1987. For the past 28 years, Escuela Nueva has improved the lives of children and their families through education that empowers and enables them as individuals.

    Their educational model seeks to improve the quality, relevance, and efficiency of education by focusing on the learner and rethinking the way students learn. The Escuela Nueva approach promotes active, participatory, cooperative, and personalized learning.

    Escuela Nueva has the ambition of nurturing an ethos of peace and participation where children, teachers, and communities are the main actors of change. They envision a future where children can access opportunities and achieve outstanding outcomes regardless of their context, through quality education.

    Through work with students, teachers, educational administrators, and communities, Escuela Nueva transforms conventional, teacher-centered learning into child-centered, collaborative learning and empowers students to be leaders and change agents.

    Escuela Nueva’s work and ideas have benefitted more than five million children across 16 Latin American countries, Vietnam, East Timor, and Zambia.

    When schools systems fail students, nations miss the opportunity to build effective citizens of the future.

    Escuela Nueva is a child-centered model that improves basic education.

    Vicky Colbert sees all children achieving academic performance, escaping poverty. and contributing to the civic life of their communities.

    Escuela Nueva's teacher training model has been replicated in Latin America and Asia.

    Ambition for Change

    The model goes beyond access to education, and shows that with the right educational approach and effective engagement of student communities, any child can achieve high academic standards, permanently escape poverty and become an active, contributing member of a flourishing society.

    Path to Scale

    Demonstration and Replication
    In addition to working with school systems and stakeholders to implement better practices, Escuela Nueva advises a wide range of governments to promote and support systemic uptake of its principles and practices.

    From an early age, Vicky Colbert became convinced that sustainable development and democracy depended on the education of all children to become future citizens of society. As a professional educator, she observed that the rote learning methods employed in many traditional schools not only failed to engage the students but actually hindered the development of their curiosity and love of learning. This led her to become a co-creator of the Escuela Nueva (New School) model, combining flexible, modular curriculum with socialization and citizenship activities, and working with children, teachers, families, and education administrators to improve the quality of basic education. The child-centered, collaborative learning approach improves academic achievements, and fosters democratic behaviors, tolerance, citizenship, and entrepreneurial skills. Escuela Nueva evolved from a local innovation into an effective national policy adopted by Colombia’s Ministry of Education to reach all children, across rural and urban divides. The impact was so significant that Vicky was recruited as a regional advisor for UNICEF and replicated the approach Latin America. She started the Escuela Nueva Foundation (ENF) and duplicated the program in 16 countries, reaching some 5 million children. In 2000, concerned that government reforms and a lack of shared standards were weakening the program, she left UNICEF to build ENF’s capacity to continue international replication and ensure the quality of all programs. Vicky has added many innovations to the model over the years. The World Bank has recognized Escuela Nueva as one of the most important reforms in global education, and the United Nations’ Human Development Report cites it as one of Colombia’s major achievements.

    Impact & Accomplishments

    • In 2008, EN trained 6,600 teachers in Colombia, reaching an additional 8% of the total rural teacher population.
    • In 2009, provided 87,000 low income children in Colombia with new EN self-paced, self-directed learning materials, covering 30% of the rural primary student populations.
    • In 2012, launched the Project for Rural Basic Education Improvement in Puebla, México, as well as an International Study Mission with the Iraqi Ministry of Education and UNICEF.
    • The Vietnamese government is implementing the Escuela Nueva methodology across the country.
    • EN trained 6% of the total teacher population of East Timor (450). Around 1,500 practioners have joined its global EN Learning Network and online community


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