Inaugural Laureates

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Vicky Colbert
Yidan Prize for Education Development Laureate

Vicky Colbert is founder and director of Fundación Escuela Nueva. Colbert is a Sociologist from Javeriana University in Colombia and pursued her graduate studies in Sociology of Education and Comparative International Education at Stanford University in the USA. In 2015, the American University of Nigeria distinguished her with an Honoris Causa Doctorate in Philosophy. Colbert is co-author of the worldwide renowned Escuela Nueva model and was its first National Coordinator.

She has pioneered, expanded and sustained this educational innovation from many organizational spheres: as Vice minister of Education of Colombia, UNICEF´s Education Adviser for LAC and now from Fundación Escuela Nueva (FEN), an NGO she founded to ensure its quality, sustainability and innovation.

Colbert has been recognized with several awards and distinctions in the fields of leadership and social entrepreneurship, such as the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, 2013 WISE Prize for Education Laureate, the Clinton Global Citizenship Award and the Kravis Prize. She has also been recognized as Outstanding Social Entrepreneur by the Schwab Foundation, Ashoka and the World Technology Network.

Comment from the judging panel:

The Yidan Prize for Education Development goes to Vicky Colbert, the Director of Fundación Escuela Nueva in Colombia.  In the 1970s, Colbert addressed the challenge of developing cost-effective, practical models for the tens of thousands of small rural schools scattered across her nation. With a focus on cooperative learning and cross-peer tutoring, she has used extensive cycles of feedback and continuous improvement to transition from conventional, teacher-centered, schooling practices to a new learner-centered model that coherently integrates the curriculum, teacher training and community involvement. This model has spread, making small, under-resourced rural schools effective in many Latin American nations. In addition, she has adapted the model to urban environments, demonstrating that the Escuela Nueva form of schooling has great promise for improving the education of the hundreds of millions of disadvantaged children throughout the world.

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