Skoll Foundation


Escuela Nueva Foundation

Skoll Awardee(s): Vicky Colbert
Award Year: 2007
Issue Area(s) Addressed: Education

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“My vision is that Escuela Nueva empowers all children to become contributing members of their communities through a quality education that promotes citizenship skills and democratic behaviors.”

Sub-Issues: Early Childhood to Primary Education; Secondary Education When school systems fail students, nations miss the opportunity to build effective citizens of the future. Traditional school systems typically fail to provide the quality education and socially relevant skills that build effective pathways out of poverty.

The Skoll Awardee: 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 since joining the portfolio in 2007:

  • 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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