Fellow Since 2006
This profile was prepared when Marta Arango was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2006.
The New Idea
Marta Arango’s method provides intellectual, physical, and emotional attention to young children from impoverished neighborhoods. Her model has transformed early childhood care and educational programs around the world, helping more than ten million families. Marta’s organization, the International Center for Education and Human Development (CINDE), is unique in its focus on communities of support—including parents and childcare professionals—which provide the foundation and preparation youngsters need to succeed in the conventional school system. When Marta established CINDE in 1977, she wanted to bridge the gap between education theory and practice. She founded her program on three elements commonly used in working with children, but have since become the norm due to her success and influence. First, she focused on children under 6 years old (though today CINDE now includes integrative programming to children 6 to 18 years). Second, CINDE explored health and environmental factors that affect a child’s wellbeing, such as personal hygiene, malaria prevention, household nutrition, community, and environmental protection. Finally, instead of working only with the children, Marta created programs that trained the trainers—parents, siblings, childcare professionals. This enabled the family to become more invested in the children’s development, as well as to sustainably build their capacities to meet their continued educational and emotional needs.