In our first and second blog posts, we had the pleasure of meeting the Escuela Nueva Foundation’s Vicky Colbert, winner of the 2011 Kravis Prize. In this final interview segment, we will explore the methods used by Vicky and Escuela Nueva to provide high quality education in developing countries around the world.
Kravis Prize: We’ve discussed the need for high quality education, but specifically how does Escuela Nueva work to achieve this important goal?
Vicky Colbert: In my experience, much attention and emphasis in educational reform is given to administrative, budgetary and spending issues, which do not directly affect student achievement. Unfortunately, very little effort is directed toward making changes within the classroom and improving teaching practices. By analyzing the daily interactions that take place in the classroom between teachers and students, among pupils themselves and in the community with students and their families, we can truly affect change.
Kravis Prize: So the Escuela Nueva model is entirely focused on the classroom?
Vicky Colbert: We have found that both classrooms and schools are important agents for educational change. Initiatives to improve the quality and relevance of education must be done at this level to be truly successful. Further, a shift in the teaching-learning paradigm must occur.
More of the same is not enough to change the lives of students. Improving the quality of education requires more than an emphasis on expanding current systems. It necessitates a cultural shift of emphasis away from transmission of information toward comprehension and collective construction of knowledge.
For the last two decades, Ernesto Schiefelbein, the former director of UNESCO for the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region, has been suggesting that the urban-marginal and rural population in the LAC region may not improve its success in primary schooling unless a new type of school is implemented. Through the efforts of the Escuela Nueva Foundation, this type of school now exists and has proven to be effective. This new type of schools employs renovated teaching methods and an evolved role for the teacher.
The Escuela Nueva model provides a cost effective, replicable and scalable solution to improve the quality and relevance of basic education in low-income schools. We are fortunate in that our success in this effort has been recognized by several international organizations, including the World Bank, the United Nations Development Report, UNESCO and the Institute of Education of the University of London. To find out more about Escuela Nueva Foundation and the work we are doing, please visit our website at escuelanueva.org.
Kravis Prize: Thanks for sharing your time and insights, Vicky! To learn more about Vicky Colbert and her visionary efforts in the field of education, please check out her profile.