Rural Education Reform: Peru Learns from the Escuela Nueva Model in Colombia
In 2011, the new administration of the Peruvian Government re-prioritized the need to improve the quality of education and services in rural areas. In order to enhance both knowledge and skills of key officials to build a more effective rural education model for Peru, the World Bank organized a knowledge exchange that focused on one of the most successful models, Colombia’s Escuela Nueva program.
During the decade 2000-2010, the Peruvian Ministry of Education did not have a clear strategy nor did it provide clear guidance for prioritizing rural education in Peru. Even though learning outcomes improved nationwide, learning outcomes in rural areas declined. In fact, after the Rural Education Project ended in 2007, rural education was severely weakened, losing funding, personnel, and political support. In 2011 the new administration re-prioritized the need to improve the quality of rural education and services in Peru.
Within this new context, the Peruvian Government requested support in developing a strategy to improve the quality of education in rural Peru. Within the Ministry of Education, the departments responsible for improving rural education tended to work in silos. These departments included the Rural Education Office, Basic Education, Teacher Training, Supervision, and Planning. The exchange was aimed at capacity building of key personnel in order to be able to design policies and instruments that would be more effective in raising the quality of rural education in Peru.
Attaining quality education in rural Peru required multi-course changes: revising cumbersome administrative rules and incentives for assigning teachers to rural schools; redressing regulations and bureaucratic requirements that discouraged or prevented education management from providing adequate pedagogical and logistical support to rural schools; and addressing teacher training policies and programs that did not effectively meet the pedagogical demands of multi-grade, rural schools. Through a joint request from both Ministries of Education and Finance, an exchange was initiated that focused on Colombia’s successful Escuela Nueva program. The Escuela Nueva model is child-centered, community-based education led by teachers who are facilitators for active, participatory, and cooperative learning. The model has proven to be cost-effective and highly adaptable.
The Escuela Nueva Foundation, an NGO founded in 1987 in league with the model, offers international study tours twice a year. Over the years the Foundation has developed a sound, comprehensive program that was singularly responsive to the visiting Peruvian delegations’ objectives. Sixteen high-ranking officials from the Peruvian Ministries of Education and Finance, including the Vice-Minister of Education and the National Director of Thematic Budgeting of the Ministry of Finance, participated in this exchange.
The full-day study tour was dedicated to discussion of strategic elements, future activities, and action planning. The discussion and analytical sessions were led by experts from the Foundation, the former Minister of Education of Colombia, and researchers from the Universidad de los Andes and UNDP in Colombia. In addition to visits to local schools that were followed with discussion and analytical sessions, the Peruvian delegation also received advisory support in relation to the development of a strategy proposal for improving the quality of rural education in Peru.
- Improved communication and coordination among departments of Ministry of Education and between Ministries of Education and Finance contributed to a move forward with the action plan for implementing a rural education strategy. The Government of Peru has taken the main lessons learned from Escuela Nueva and created Marca Peru. The new educational model has been incorporated as a core component in guiding all education policies both on the pedagogical and institutional aspects for the Ministry of Education.
- Following the study tour, the Peruvian Ministry of Education continued to request technical assistance from the Escuela Nueva Foundation to assess similar programs implemented successfully (but in a small scale) in Peru and to train specialists in the methodology for developing self-paced learning materials for students. In addition, the Ministry of Education developed large public investment projects to validate other elements of the Escuela Nueva model. The Ministry of Finance is supporting these initiatives for the period 2013-2016.
- This was a high-return activity, implemented in a short period of time but with long-term results. The delegation could have been smaller; but at that time, this would have posed higher risks of leaving out key players. And judging by the returns to this investment, it was a calculated risk that paid off.
- Participation of key government officials (political and financial decision-makers and technical and operational implementers) represented a powerful foundation to promote high-level technical dialogue grounded in meaningful experiences that fostered the necessary political support to move the project forward.
- Having joint participation of the Ministries of Finance and Education was of great value because it created a rare opportunity for open communication and provided an opportunity for Finance officials to understand the actual program that the Ministry would be financing.
- The size of the delegation in relation to the objectives of the exchange should be considered. The large delegation in this exchange was probably not necessary, and potentially a more selective delegation of key champions would have achieved similar results. However, at the time of the study tour, the Peruvian Government was fairly new and responsibilities over multi-grade education had not been established; therefore, having a broader set of actors participating ensured that all the stakeholders with potential involvement learned about the Escuela Nueva program.
The World Bank acted as facilitator (convener, trusted intermediary, technical expert, and financier) in the communication and definition of a shared agenda between Peru and Colombia before, during, and after the study tour. The World Bank provided funding for the delegation’s airfare, lodging, and travel expenses. The exchange was directly linked to the ongoing technical assistance program and provided critical inputs for the preparation of the new education sector wide approach (SWAp) operation. The Bank team has continued to support the Peruvian Government in delineating the strategy in a multiyear government program for results, which is supported through the new SWAp for the period 2013-2016.
16 high-ranking government officials from Ministries of Education and Finance, including:
- Vice Minister of Pedagogic Affairs (MINEDU)
- National Director of Thematic Budget (MEF)
- General Director of Basic Education, General Director of Higher Education and Teacher Training
- National Director of Primary Education
- National Director of Rural Education
- National Director of Research
- Chief of Planning and Evaluation
- Several specialists (MINEDU)
Colombian Technical Experts
- Vicky Colbert, Escuela Nueva Foundation, and team
- Claudia Maria Velez, former Minister of Education
- Dr. Clemente Forero, Universidad de los Andes (Researcher)
- Dr. Alfredo Sarmiento, UNDP (Researcher)
- The Escuela Nueva Foundation has continued to provide assistance to Peru. Experts have traveled twice to Peru on follow-up activities, and have offered to provide their services for the development of materials and teacher training program.
- A week after returning to Lima, the Ministry of Education was hosting a team from Escuela Nueva for technical assistance
- In June 2012, another week-long technical assistance was provided to work on adapting the self-paced learning guides of Escuela Nueva to the Peruvian context.
- In July 2012, the Government of Peru approved the new strategic program for learning results, which incorporates several key elements of the Escuela Nueva model to be rolled-out in the 2013-2016 period.
- Ministry of Education official: "In short, the study-tour added the value of fostering knowledge and deeper understanding of successful experiences, their key components, the analysis of their applicability in Peru, and their incorporation into our Program for Learning Achievement in Peru."
- Ministry of Economics and Finance official: "I arrived in Colombia thinking that hardly a multi-grade school could be of quality, and came back convinced of the opposite."
- Peru Basic Education Project - http://www.worldbank.org/projects/P123151/pe-basic-education?lang=en (Team Lead: Ines Kudo; Duration: January 17, 2013 to March 31, 2018
- Peru Country Page - http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/peru
- A lesson from Peru: Quality trumps quantity in country's classrooms (news article) - http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2013/07/02/lesson-from-peru-quality-trumps-quantity-in-classroomsn
- Escuela Nueva Foundation - http://www.escuelanueva.org/portal/
- Escuela Nueva Educational Model - http://www.escuelanueva.org/portal/en/escuela-nueva-model.html