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Fundación Escuela Nueva

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Ribbon HUNDRED 2020
How can we give all children access to collaborative learning focused on the learner?

Fundación Escuela Nueva

Bogotá, Colombia
Escuela Nueva, meaning 'New School' in Spanish, transforms the conventional school model by rethinking the teaching and learning processes to ensure that every child, everywhere, receives high-quality, accessible and relevant education.

What is Escuela Nueva?

Vicky Colbert, Founder, Escuela Nueva
“A child-centered education model that puts cooperative, constructive, personalized and active learning over memorization and passive learning and empowers children as part of a selfgoverning community”

Vicky Colbert, Founder, Escuela Nueva

Children have the right to basic education in most countries. Despite this, there are some areas where access is not guaranteed, particularly for children from more deprived backgrounds or isolated areas.

In rural areas of Colombia, if children do have the opportunity to go to school, the quality of education may be lower than in more urban or wealthier areas.  Many students attend multi-grade schools with a wide range of ages in a class. There has typically been an emphasis on lecture-like rote learning, with little relation to daily life in rural areas. This inequality in education provision contributes to a continuous cycle of poverty and to wider social inequity.  

Fundación Escuela Nueva was founded over 30 years ago to improve educational opportunities for the most vulnerable children in rural Colombia. What started as a grassroots project is now a large foundation influencing government policy in several developing countries. Their guiding philosophy is that education should be accessible, high-quality, and relevant to students.

Escuela Nueva teaching methods include small group working, dialogue, and cooperative learning. Children interact, collaborate, and learn with each other. Teachers do not stand in front of the classroom and lecture, but act as facilitators to guide discussions and support learners as they work through their learning guide workbooks. Students are involved in every element of how the school operates. They make decisions about how and what they learn, promoting democratic values. 

The learning guides are designed and adapted to ensure they are relevant and reflect the contexts in which students are living. There are activities for learning outside the classroom to enrich the curriculum and there is an emphasis on encouraging families to participate in education. The use of learning guides is flexible in order to meet the individual needs of the children who work through them at their own pace.

Ongoing teacher training is a core component of the Escuela Nueva model. Instead of a focus on theory and academic study, teachers are trained using the same methodologies as used in the classroom with the students. In this way, the strategies are modeled clearly to the teachers. 

Such child-centered learning has been seen to improve academic achievement, reduce dropout rates and develop social ideals such as democracy and peace. In one UNESCO study, Colombia was ranked second in the world for rural education provision. Some rural areas have even outperformed some urban schools. Successes in the rural communities have led to Escuela Nueva becoming the national policy for both rural and urban education in Colombia.

Fundación Escuela Nueva (FEN) is a non-governmental organization (NGO) founded by the creators of Escuela Nueva. FEN has shared the model across 40 countries and 12 countries have adapted and implemented the model through government policy reform and global partnerships.

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Innovation Overview
Target Group
2 000 000
5 206
Tips for implementation
Students, teachers, schools and communities need to work together to affect educational change. Teachers participate in experimental training and relevant learning materials are needed within schools. Escuela Nueva also works with governments to facilitate the implementation of the model.
Contact information
Fundación Escuela Nueva
HundrED Review

Escuela Nueva challenges conventional thinking and promotes small effective changes in the classroom. These innovations in the daily routines of teachers enable change to happen at a grassroots level and expand upwards.


In Colombia alone, the Escuela Nueva model has been adopted in over 25,000 schools, proving that fundamental changes to education can be made on a grand scale. Around 20 other nations have started using the Escuela Nueva model, including Vietnam, Uganda, India, Brazil, and the Philippines.


Escuela Nueva has been developed to be easily replicable and scalable, so that any teacher can affect change, beginning with small actions. Fundación Escuela Nueva also offers technical assistance to governments to implement change in a cost-effective way.


See this innovation in action

The Global Search for Education: Escuela Nueva Has Much to Teach Us
Teachers as Designers of Learning Environments
Why We Should Pay Attention to the Escuela Nueva Model
The Escuela Nueva Learning Circles: learning in emergency situations (COVID-19)
The principals are very beautiful but how do they implement it? I want to know a real example of it
What is the Escuela Nueva Activa® model?


Achievements & Awards


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Inspired to implement this? Here's how...

Receive technical assistance and support
FEN aims to build a global movement focused on improving the lives and opportunities of the most vulnerable children through quality education, and will gladly support other organizations in furthering this goal.
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Affect change within schools
The most crucial step is to integrate the principles of the Escuela Nueva Activa model in more schools around the world.
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Create a connected community
The creation of a learning community to strengthen knowledge production and management, and to connect partners.
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Research and evaluation to measure impact and innovate
FEN promotes research and evaluation around the principles developed by the Escuela Nueva Activa model -in partnership with institutions and academics- to measure impact, innovate, and promote continuous learning. . 
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