María Isabel Santillana

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 1995


This profile was prepared when María Isabel Santillana was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1995.
The New Idea
Distressed by the failure of the Peruvian government to provide effective in-service training for the vast number of underqualified teachers in the public education system, María Santillana is developing a dynamic training initiative that elicits the active engagement of its participants, - encourages them to identify the most pressing needs of their students, schools and communities, and helps them acquire skills, materials and teaching methods responsive to those needs. Other hallmarks of María's training endeavor include its accessibility and relevance for teachers in poor rural and urban communities, a heavy reliance on volunteer teacher trainers, an emphasis on inventiveness in curriculum and materials development and particular attention to the needs of students for whom Spanish is not their first language.To complement her training initiative, María also publishes a national magazine for teachers, in which particularly innovative and effective teaching materials and classroom techniques are featured and teachers share their reflections on issues of common concern. In addition, she is establishing a number of "Women's Education Houses," which will provide an additional locus for the exchange of ideas and teaching materials.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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