International Day of the World’s Indigenous People – 9/08/2012

When I was teaching, I came across a  published by the  Mohawk (Kanienkehaka)  Nation and entitled  Akwesasne Notes. The struggle to maintain the Mohawk language and the efforts of elders and educators to keep the language alive and learned by the next generation both interested and excited me as a teacher.

The struggle goes on for the Mohawk Nation and other indigenous peoples  around the world and should be supported not only through the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People , but of course, every day.

The International Day of the World’s Indigenous People (9 August) was first proclaimed by the General Assembly in December 1994, to be celebrated every year during the first International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People (1995 – 2004).

In 2004, the Assembly proclaimed a Second International Decade, from 2005 – 2015, with the theme of “A Decade for Action and Dignity.”

From Cultural Survival:

Things You Can Do Today to Combat Discrimination Against Indigenous Peoples:

  1. Stop Land Grabbing in Ethiopia. Write a letter or send an email. The Ethiopian government is forcing the Indigenous Peoples of the southwest off their ancestral lands and leasing these lands to foreign companies. Bulldozers are destroying the forests, farms, and grazing lands that have sustained Anuak, Mezenger, Nuer, Opo, and Komo peoples for centuries. While the foreign companies are planting food crops and agrofuels like oil palm, mainly for export, soldiers are forcing thousands of Indigenous people into state-created villages, simultaneously robbing them of their livelihoods and their cultural identity.
  2. undrip cover
    Read, honor, and cite the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, especially Article 2 that states: 

    “Indigenous peoples and individuals are free and equal to all other peoples and individuals and have the right to be free from any kind of discrimination, in the exercise of their rights, in particular that based on their Indigenous origin or identity.”

  3. Learn about Native American language revitalization efforts in the US. Despite decades of oppressive boarding schools and discriminatory educational policies, Native community members are working tirelessly to keep their languages and cultures alive and to transmit them to future generations. Share by sending an audio postcard.
  4.  Watch and learn about the community radio movement in Guatemala. Indigenous people in Guatemala are struggling to get a discriminatory telecommunications law changed and community radio legalized.  A network of over 200 tiny community radio stations across the country broadcasts in one or more of the country’s 23 Indigenous languages. The stations provide news, educational programming, health information, and traditional music, all reinforcing pride in Mayan heritage.





How many children are learning?

The plain answer is -we don’t know!

However, there is progress on trying to find answers to this question.

Advances have been made since 1990’s on getting more children into school but the real goal of getting more children into school and learning is a bigger challenge.

And once they are in school what is the quality of their learning -does it prepare them for an unknown future, for good health and how to look after themselves socially,psychologically and economically? The jury is still out!


Market in Freetown Source: Agnes Pessima

According to new data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), 67 million children were out of school globally in 2009.This figure has been falling, especially since 2000, when the international community reinforced commitments to achieve universal primary education (UPE). Since then, the share of out-of-school children of primary school age has fallen from 16% to 10%. In addition, efforts to improve educational access for girls have yielded positive results. In 2009, girls accounted for 53% of children out of school compared to 57% in 2000.

Yet despite this progress, the pace of change appears to be slowing. The new data underscore a central message of the 2011 edition of the Education for All Global Monitoring Report: “the world is not on track to achieve UPE by 2015”. Moreover, it will be increasingly difficult to reach those children who remain excluded from education due to the complex nature of inequities associated with gender, ethnicity, wealth and location.

The Education for All (EFA) goals initiated in 1990 in Jomtien, Thailand demonstrated a commitment to meeting basic learning needs. This commitment was restated in 2000 in the Dakar Framework for Action, in which Goal 6 states; “Improving every aspect of the quality of education, and ensuring their excellence so that recognized and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all, especially in literacy, numeracy and essential life skills”.

Yet today there is growing evidence suggesting that millions of children and youth do not have the basic skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in school and life. Since 2000, there have been extraordinary gains in access to education.

However, many of those who do complete the education cycle do not finish with the skills needed to fully participate in society and the economy. The true cost to society is impossible to measure within current assessment systems. While international assessments are used to compare learning across countries, they do not include the majority of the world’s children living in low- and low-middle-income countries, particularly the most vulnerable children and youth. Other multi-country assessments are conducted following approaches that prevent their results from being pooled into a unique set of equivalent evidence.

To attempt to get a better understanding about the progress in learning outcomes there is a new Learning Metrics Task Force.UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics and the Center for Universal Education form the secretariat of the task force, which brings together a diverse group of political stakeholders and technical experts from all regions to explore common goals for global education. The task force will make recommendations for the post-2015 global policy agenda in order to improve learning outcomes for children worldwide.
As the task force’s key findings will be shared along the way there is a consultative process,and the Brookings Institute (who are part of the secretariat for the task force)   suggests ways to engage in this process, for example

  • Circulate and provide comments on discussion documents.The first discussion document, “Multi-Country Assessments of Learning” is available for comment now. Two subsequent papers— “Issues in Global Learning Assessment” and “National Assessments of Learning”— will be available for comment in August.


One of the conclusions of the report:

Much progress has been made in increasing access to school and measuring learning globally. However, several gaps exist that make it impossible to obtain an accurate estimation of learning worldwide.
The majority of initiatives to measure learning at the primary level are conducted in schools, thereby leaving out children who are of school age but not enrolled in school.

Redefining the Educational Form: Peace Education through Escuela Nueva

The following article is from the latest newsletter from the Escuela Nueva Foundation

Redefining the Educational Form: Peace Education through Escuela Nueva

Matthias Rüst

Consultant for Peace Education at Fundación Escuela Nueva, Colombia

In his article The Substance of Peace Education, Magnus Haavelsrud makes a case to analyze peace education through the lenses of three major components: form (pedagogy), content and structure. Introducing and relating the three components to each other, he suggests that “some peace educators seem to judge only one or two of the three components as important. Thus, it is not difficult to find peace education projects which are restricted to a change in the content of education.”

The 2011 report “Peace Education: State of the Field and Lessons Learned from USIP Grantmaking“ by the United States Institute for Peace (which was discussed in issue #89 of the GCPE newsletter) seems to follow the same argument. After an introduction defining the general field as such, the three ensuing sections entitled Developing Instructional ContentPreparing a New Cadre of Peace Educators andMainstreaming Peace Education visibly refer to the different dynamics and challenges encountered in terms of content, form and structure, respectively. There seems to be a consensus in analysis that the elaboration of instructional content, apparently the least difficult intervention, has been widely predominant, and that the further development of the field of peace education must go hand in hand with a stronger focus on educational form and organizational structure.

The case of the Escuela Nueva pedagogical model from Colombia is of great interest here. It is not a peace education initiative or project, and actually the term itself has probably not been sufficiently made explicit in its 35 years of existence. Instead, the Escuela Nueva model is a thorough pedagogical reform inspired by the international New School Movement that was designed in 1976 to provide complete primary education as well as increase the quality, equity, and effectiveness of rural Colombian schools.

This pedagogical model is not just like any other initiative that seeks to provide quality education for all. Instead, Escuela Nueva stands out due to a series of significant methodological shifts and innovations. The character of these innovations indicates that, from its beginning, the Escuela Nueva model sought to not only improve but also humanize education, and through this, to humanize society at large and contribute to building a Culture of Peace.

However, instead of “entering” peace education from the content component like many other initiatives, Escuela Nueva’s main pedagogical innovation is a radical redefinition of the educational form, supported by a significantly more peace-enhancing organizational structure. It advocates and implements a participatory methodology that fully transforms the learning process and classroom interaction. The following highly interdependent principles and tools explain the essence of this approach:

Cooperative learning and active, social construction of knowledge: Active, participatory, personalized and cooperative learning in small groups is the centerpiece of the Escuela Nueva methodology. Learning guides, designed and structured to promote dialogue, interaction, as well as individual work, work in pairs and in groups, facilitate the children’s study of the different subjects. There is a focus on the development of processes that helps assure that the knowledge that the students construct is the result of the mental reflection and higher level thinking that has taken place while working on the different group activities. This approach allows the students to participate actively in the acquisition of knowledge, express their own points of view, listen to and respect those of the others, make decisions, develop autonomy and ownership, and discuss and share their knowledge.

Shift in the teacher’s role to guide and facilitate: Collaborative group work and self-paced, child-centered learning requires a new role for the teachers. They are no longer “the source of knowledge” as is the case in conventional schools. Instead, they assume the role of guides and facilitators. This change of role relies, in turn, on the organization of the classroom into small groups and the methodological structure of the guides which foster a learning process based on dialogue and interaction, practice and application. This makes it possible for the student to really be in the center of the educational process and fosters horizontal relationships between the teacher and the students.

Student governments as democracy in practice: Unlike in other educational systems, the student government in the Escuela Nueva model is not merely a representative body; it is a curricular strategy that encourages the students’ affective, social and moral development by means of experiential group activities. The student government carries a lot of responsibility in the management of the daily tasks at school, and solutions for many of the problems, challenges, and difficulties encountered are directly pursued by its diverse committees. In this respect, the student government constitutes a tool for real transformation of school life in the constant search for an ever growing and more sustainable peace and harmony.

These innovations were only possible due to a transformation of teacher training strategies. Without exception, teacher training takes place in participatory workshops that replicate the methodology of the model itself, and their primary objective is to bring about a change of attitude on the part of the teachers. This is shown by the testimony of Carlos Alberto Carmona Lancheros, a teacher in Colombia’s Coffee region: “In my case, I was first teaching in a conventional school, then worked in an office and almost seven years ago started teaching with Escuela Nueva. Today I can say that for no reason I would ever go back to the conventional school model. Using the Escuela Nueva model our work as teachers is truly humane and inclusive. It allows the children to dream of a better world based on their own contributions.”

Through the direct application of the new pedagogical strategy, an alternative understanding of the educational process and the teachers’ role in it is cultivated among the teachers and the principals. The importance of this approach has also been pointed out in the USIP report mentioned before, affirming that “[p]eace education efforts that are solely focused on creating new textbooks and materials miss the critical aspect of the work, which is to prepare educators who themselves model the values of peace and can create a peaceful classroom. The most successful programs are where the mindset of the teacher and the relationships in the learning community are transformed.”1

The Escuela Nueva model, thus, considers peace education not as an “additional subject” at the periphery of the conventional curriculum. Rather, it unlocks empathy and other social skills, promotes peaceful coexistence and an approach to positive peace through its inherent nature. It takes distance from the conventional school that is based on memorization, authoritarianism, and the transmission of information to foment a focus on child-centered learning. This conception permeates all different elements of Escuela Nueva and is the key to the development of peace-enhancing knowledge, skills, values, attitudes and behavior.

Several national and international studies have highlighted the strong positive impact of Escuela Nueva on generating peaceful and democratic attitudes and behaviors. Most interestingly, this impact is not only sustainable in time with Escuela Nueva alumni participating with a higher probability in various voluntary organizations or collaborating more constructively with local authorities. It also causes a strong positive effect on the students’ families and communities. Intra-familial violence as a way to punish or reprimand children is being reduced, and parents participate more actively in the organization of committees to resolve problems that affect the community. The model has, thus, also proved very effective for peacebuilding at the community level, using the school as “entry point” into communities suffering from high levels of social or even armed conflict.

The model has been adapted by the Fundación Escuela Nueva to fit the needs of diverse population groups in both rural and urban areas, and has been applied with great success in peaceful as well as non-peaceful contexts. As a result, the Escuela Nueva model has impacted national policy in Colombia. It has also acted as an inspirational model for education reforms worldwide and has been visited by more than 40 countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia (see Fundación Escuela Nueva´s website for a list of countries).

Resuming, the Escuela Nueva model yields scientific results not only improving academic achievements, but also generating democratic and peace-enhancing skills, behaviors and attitudes, and has successfully managed to scale up and generate a multiplier effect, both nationally and internationally (to mention only two of the main strategic challenges presented by the USIP report). It incorporates in its design and implementation peace-relevant content, form and structure, thus providing an effective strategy for peace education that successfully addresses the fundamental challenges mentioned in the literature on the subject. The upcoming publication entitled Peace Education in Escuela Nueva will provide many more details about most of the aspects mentioned within this article, especially about the relevant research findings as well as specific success stories in the promotion of a Culture of Peace.

Finally, we have also identified interesting challenges for the development, deepening and expansion of peace education within the Escuela Nueva model. One point refers precisely to the task of making the dimension of peace education more explicit, a long process within which we have only gone some first steps. For this reason Fundación Escuela Nueva seeks to implement several peace education projects, among them a recollection of best practices developed by Escuela Nueva teachers and the elaboration of a peace-focused teacher training tool based on the Escuela Nueva methodology. Beyond that, further research is necessary to identify which elements of Escuela Nueva are the most relevant and effective in contributing to a Culture of Peace. For all these efforts we are actively seeking alliances with other institutions, agencies and international organizations that share our vision and desire to transform education to make it a vehicle for peace and harmony for humankind.

Resources and References:

  • Fundación Escuela Nueva Volvamos a la Gente, Peace Education in Escuela Nueva, by Matthias Rüst, Bogota, Colombia, 2012.
  • HAAVELSRUD, Magnus, The Substance of Peace Education, Department of Education, Norwegian University of Technology and Science, Trondheim, Norway. An earlier version of this paper was published in UNICEF: Development Education School Series, No 6, Geneva, 1979 and in International Educator, Vol 10, No 3, 1995: 29 – 33.
  • USIP, Peace Education: State of the Field and Lessons Learned from USIP Grantmaking, by Mari Fitzduff and Isabella Jean, United States of America, 2011.

Opportunities for the Future: Basic vocational training for refugee youth in Dadaab (Kenya)

Worldwide , youth are having a difficult time, particularly in terms of low educational achievement and restricted job and training opportunities.

Those who are displaced or find themselves as refugees have particular difficulties:

Opportunities for the Future: Basic vocational training for refugee youth in Dadaab (Kenya)

Norwegian Refugee Council

Refugee youth in Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya consider lack of opportunities to be one of the biggest challenges to living in the camp.  Education proves to be a key factor in expanding opportunities within the limitations camp life sets. Yet little humanitarian assistance addresses  the specific learning needs of youth. How can education best address the needs of displaced youth with no educational background?


For more information, click here.

Breaking the Cycle of Crisis – Save the Children

Breaking the Cycle of Crisis – Save the Children


For more information, click here. – just launched!

Some may not know the existence of Teachers Without Borders. They have a good on line anti-bullying course for instance and now they have started a new online community:

“Teachers Without Borders has launched a new online community, and we are inviting you to join us there. The new community will replace our current Groups Space platform. It is much more responsive and easier to navigate. We believe that you will now find it easier to connect with colleagues, share resources, create and join interest groups, maintain a personal blog, and both start and participate in discussions. The community is also much more cost-effective and easier to manage for our staff and partners.”

Thematic case studies – Education

If you are interested in Education in a variety of countries, it is worth taking a look at the new series of thematic case studies :

The Thematic Case Study Series – a collaborative effort between INEE and the Global Education Cluster – seeks to capture lessons learned and examples of good practices from country-level Education Clusters. This initial report specifically explores the following five thematic issues:

  1. Using the INEE Minimum Standards
  2. Working with national authorities
  3. Early Childhood Development (ECD)
  4. Gender
  5. Youth

In-depth interviews were conducted with 13 Cluster Coordinators and five thematic experts to inform the thematic case studies. Each case study consists of three major sections:

  • Country cases: Three country-specific examples of national Education Clusters’ work and discussion surrounding the thematic issue.
  • Analysis and lessons learned:Presents some of the key lessons learned based on an analysis of the country cases
  • Recommendations: Three lists of recommendations, based on the case study’s findings: one aimed at global and regional education stakeholders, one at INEE and the other at national education stakeholders

The primary audiences for these case studies are Education Cluster actors, including Cluster Coordinators, lead and partner agency actors, and government representatives, as well as UN and NGO education staff and those working in other relevant sectors at both national and global levels.

We hope you enjoy reading the studies and will find them useful and applicable to your work. For more information, and to request a template for drafting similar case studies of your own, please contact

This document is freely available for download on the INEE website here.