Colombian education reformer Vicky Colbert wasted no time after graduating with an MA from Standford's School of Education. With her native country's under-served, rural areas in mind, she created the Escuela Nueva (E.N.) in 1975. Colbert had seen schools with poor teacher-student rations suffering from a lack of prograss, low moral, and increasing drop out rates. Escuela Nueva instituted an active-learning model that emphasizes school-community relations and features a flexible, hands-on approach to teaching instead of the classic lecture style. By the end of the 1980s, the E.N. model had been used in almost 20,000 schools across the country. In 1989, World Bank called E.N. one of the most influential reform policies in the world. Colbert went on to become Columbia's vice minister of education, and then served as UNICEF's regional adviser for education in the Americas. As government policy changed, E.N. faced the challenge of continuing their influence into another stage of reform and struggled to maintain financial recourses. In response, Colbert resigned from her vice minister job and thought of a way to salvage the E.N. She started the Escuela Nueva Foundation, an NGO that uses private funds to sustain the curriculum. A 2007 recipient of the Skoll Foundation's Social Entrepreneur Award, the E.N. model has now penetrated classrooms in 14 countries, and has influenced the education of over 5 million students. Vicky Colbert knew changing Colombian education would require a lifetime of dedication. She stayed committed for decades, and her homeland, along with much of Latin America, has reaped the benefit of lasting reform.
"It was built on what was existing, but also introduced strategies that could be politically, technical and financially feasible."