Vicky Colbert de Arboleda, executive director and founder of Fundación Escuela Nueva and co-author of the Escuela Nueva educational model from Colombia, won the WISE Prize for Education 2013 instituted by the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE).
The prize was presented by HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, chairperson of Qatar Foundation, at the Opening Plenary Session of the fifth WISE Summit yesterday.
Vicky, who was one of the recipients of the WISE Awards in 2009, is the first lady to win the coveted prize that comprises of $500,000 and a gold medal.
Speaking to Gulf Times, the WISE Prize laureate said that ways of learning need to be changed. “If we challenge the traditional methods of learning, we need to transform the way of learning. There are simple practical ways to help the learners which should be adopted. There were many difficulties and so many problems in the journey so far. All the constraints were great opportunities to challenge the conventional model of education.”
Vicky said that winning the WISE Prize was a tremendous boost for her initiative. She explained: “It is a ground-breaking initiative by WISE to put education in the centre of everything. It is stimulating and it is quite unique. I am planning an initiative of a public private partnership in this project and this honour will help in enhancing our impact in many fields.”
The laureate emphasised the importance of shifting the paradigm from transmission of knowledge to social construction of knowledge and the new role of teacher. “The initiative is 30 years old and a life long journey. We initiated the idea of taking education from teacher-centric aspect to child-centred and at self-paced learning. With all the efforts, we came up with cutting-edge pedagogy.”
The activist highlighted that one of the beauties of the programme was to turn the complexity of education into manageable actions.
“The programme simplified the learning process. Education is complex and we really had to turn it into manaegable action that would be replicable and scalable. We designed an outline that was technically feasible, politically manageable and financially viable,” she said adding that there are still many challenges as the programme needs to show more flexibility to migrant population and displaced children.
Vicky disclosed that the programme will be implemented in Africa from next January. “The programme mainly runs in Latin America. Asian countries such as Vietnam and East Timor have implemented the programme at government level. As it is, 16 countries are running the programme as a government policy.”
“This has been a life project and now it is a collective life project. Many people have participated in it. We started it as a local innovation in Colombia in mid 1980s and it reached more than 20,000 schools. When World Bank selected the project, many countries started implementing the project,” she said
Escuela Nueva is a programme that grew out of the Unitary School approach promoted by Unesco in the 1960s. The programme is aimed at offering primary education in schools with only one teacher working with all the grades.
In order to impact a national policy, Vicky introduced strategies to facilitate replication and scalability, working with teachers, administrators and the communities.
She also co-authored the first manual of Escuela Nueva, where all the underpinnings of the model were made explicit and systematised to facilitate replication.
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