Escuela Nueva

“The concept of social participation is the cross-cutting dimension to all the different components of the Escuela Nueva model. Children, teachers and parents share control of the decisions on activities that affect their lives. This enhances quality, sustainability and impact.”
Vicky Colbert, Founder of Escuela Nueva

About Vicky Colbert

Vicky Colbert, co-author of the Escuela Nueva educational model, is highly regarded as an innovator in the field of education. She founded the nonprofit organization Fundación Escuela Nueva in 1987 to improve the quality and relevance of basic education in low income schools through the implementation of the model. She co-designed this model in the mid-seventies to provide complete primary education in Colombia and to improve the quality and effectiveness of schools, especially those in rural or isolated areas. The Escuela Nueva model had an impact on national policy in Colombia by the end of the 1980’s and was implemented in most rural schools in the country. It is one of the longest running grass-roots educational innovations of the developing world. Vicky Colbert has developed, sustained, and expanded the Escuela Nueva model from different organizational roles: as the first National Escuela Nueva Coordinator, Vice-Minister of Education in Colombia, and UNICEF´s Regional Education Advisor for Latin America and the Caribbean. Internationally, she has been recognized as an Outstanding Social Entrepreneur by the Schwab Foundation and as a Leading Social Entrepreneur and Senior Fellow of Ashoka. In 2006, she received the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship and in 2007, Colbert was honored with the first ever Clinton Global Citizenship award. In 2009 she received the WISE Award in Education for Pluralism from the Qatar Foundation. In Colombia, Colbert was selected as one of the 100 most influential women of Colombia’s history and the Most Successful Woman of 2002 in the education field. Colbert completed her undergraduate sociology degree at Javeriana University in Colombia and earned two MA´s in Sociology of Education and Comparative International Education from Stanford University.

Current Operations of Fundación Escuela Nueva

Escuela Nueva has designed and adapted their proprietary pedagogy and learning materials to urban contexts, populations (such as displaced and in emergencies), and countries, and has directed important efforts in information management. These achievements have been widely documented by international organizations and leading researchers throughout the world. Escuela Nueva’s mission is to improve the quality, relevance, and efficiency of education rethinking how we learn and promoting an active, collaborative, and personalized learning-centered approach. In Colombia, between 2006 and 2011, Fundación Escuela Nueva trained more than 30,000 teachers and reached more than 600,000 students with its learning materials. Internationally, the Escuela Nueva model has been adapted in 16 countries, mainly by governments, and in Latin America, it has benefited more than five million children.

Approach and Distinguishing Features

Through concrete and simple curricular and classroom strategies, experiential and effective teacher training, and community and administrative components, Escuela Nueva transforms the conventional school and learning approach. It moves away from frontal “teacher-centered” environments to “child-centered,” active learning environments that fully engage students and allow them to learn how to learn, dialogue, and interact with others. Children are perceived as active participants in their education. The Escuela Nueva model has demonstrated proven results, boosting academic achievements, self-esteem, and girls’ participation. In addition, the model fosters civic and democratic behaviors in students, ultimately promoting social and entrepreneurial skills necessary for students in the 21st century.



Kravis Prize in Nonprofit Leadership

2011 Recipient

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