What is Escuela Nueva?
Initiated in 1975 in rural Colombia, Escuela Nueva – “New School” in Spanish – is a learning model set up in response to problems of education, incomplete schooling, high dropout rates, high repetition, weak school-community relationships, low teacher morale, ineffective teacher training and the lack of children’s learning materials. Since then, it has been adapted to urban and migrant populations and adopted by 16 countries, reaching over 5 million children.
Escuela Nueva provides a cost-effective, replicable and scalable solution to improve quality basic education in low-income schools. Through its child-centred and collaborative learning approach, it transforms the traditional classroom and promotes entrepreneurial skills: learning to learn, lead processes, team work, decision-making.
Bottom-up, it impacts the entire education system by involving all stakeholders; top-down, through influencing education policy.
Students learn in small groups using interactive, reusable learning guides, designed to promote dialogue, critical thinking and application of knowledge to family and community. Learning guides allow students to advance at their own pace. Children use learning corners with local materials, a small classroom library and are organised in school governments with committees and instruments promoting participation. This has proved an excellent way of handling diversity in age, grade, gender and culture. Teacher training is experiential and teachers modify their role from transmitters of facts to facilitators and advisers of children. They support each other and promote positive attitudinal change through professional development centres or microcentres and local networks.
Learning Circles are an adaptation specifically targetting those young people who have been displaced from their homes though conflict.