Fr. Luiz Fernando Klein SJ, Education Delegate for the Jesuit Provincials’ Conference of Latin America (CPAL) prepared a report with best practices in 2 Latin American schools ( in Ecuador and Colombia). For some years now, these schools have been carrying out radical transformation processes in their structure, methodology and functioning.

In this article we would like to highlight the central elements of the report. To download the document please click on the links below:

Spanish:“Colegios jesuitas innovadores en América Latina
Portuguese: Colégios jesuítas inovadores na América Latina

Those who visit these schools no longer find the traditional desks arranged in a row, facing the blackboard. The students do not remain immobile, subject to turns of professors who every 45 or 50 minutes give them a unilateral speech, on different subjects. “


The Jesuit schools in Latin America – of which there are 89 – are currently engaged in intense work on school reconfiguration and pedagogical innovation. Among them we would like to highlight San Gabriel schools, in Quito (Ecuador) and San Francisco Javier, in Pasto, (Colombia), because for three years they have been undergoing radical transformation (in all areas), which has been all encompassing (at all levels) and systemic in its structure, methodology and operation.

Leading Question.

Why and how is this transformation so profound that it shows not only varied learning techniques, but another style of school and of pedagogy?

Content of the Report.

Through this report, Fr. Klein relates both experiences. Firstly, outlining the elements that allow us to understand the transformation process and the sustenance of the changes that the school made, through the description of the inspiring sources used and the fundamental decisions made.

At the end of the first section, Fr. Klein presents the three central elements of analysis: methodology, the integration of Pastoral work and the formation of educators.

The second part of the report presents the main achievements (8) and the main challenges (5)

In the last section, Fr. Klein presents a summary of the main results obtained through interviews with directors, educators and students.

The report finishes with the presentation of some conclusions by the author.


Summary table with quotes from the document:

The spark of transformation “It is striking that the cause for the transformative process in these schools did not present itself because they were in a crisis, had poor academic results or low enrollment numbers. San Gabriel School decided to transform itself in the year (2016) in which it was mentioned in the top few schools on the national evaluation list. Two factors had determined the transformation: the analysis of the contemporary educational vision and the incentives of the Society of Jesus to face the challenges presented. “
Context “From 2012, the schools in the Ignatian Educational Units Network (RUEI) carried out an evaluation of the School Management Quality System (SCGE) implemented by FLACSI (Federation of Jesuit Schools of Latin America) and felt strongly the need to transform the educational model they were applying. “
Key decisions “They were convinced that pedagogical innovation had to be implemented in a systemic way, since the elements of the new structure represent a disruption, a radical change of organization and they refer to each other. Fragmentary applications would be misleading and frustrating in the medium term … “

“The second important decision made by the two schools was to apply the

Innovation to all grades simultaneously, and not grade by grade. The schools leadership teams had carefully discerned the advantages and risks of such audacity, but the result was rewarding for everyone. “

Methodology “”San Gabriel School chose to improve the curriculum focused on subjects or areas, adopting the Teaching for Understanding method, designed in Project Zero, Harvard University, with four dimensions: knowledge, method, purpose and communication. This pedagogical backbone gradually added various learning strategies according to the development of the projects. These are the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm (IPP), Cooperative Learning, Project Work, Service Learning, Multiple Intelligences, Thinking Routines, Problem Solving and Meta-cognition, amongst others.

As for San Francisco Javier, the school chose to work by department, also selecting pedagogical strategies from Barcelona, ​​and articulating them with Pedagogy in “Con-text”, applied by the Suyusama Foundation 21 on regional sustainability. “

Integration of the Pastoral “Educators of the two schools recognize that one of the most important achievements of the innovation process was the integration of the department of ​​religious and spiritual formation with the academic departments.”

“The pastoral revolution of San Gabriel School occurred when a group of high school students participated in a comprehensive training workshop in Pasto. Speaking with educators and students from other Latin American countries, Ecuadorians compared the education they received. “

Cura Personalis “Counselling and accompaniment of the students becomes more intense and personalized through the substitution of tests and exams with rubrics or spreadsheets with performance indicators. This resource allows us to accompany the students more efficiently with a different learning style and rhythm compared to the classroom average. “
Normalization and discipline “With the new pedagogical and school model the “inspectors” or “discipline controllers” gradually lost their raison d’être, eventually disappearing from the organizational chart of the schools. Educators are close to students in a greater number of activities, such as during recess. Once they work more in groups, the students themselves hold themselves accountable in terms of punctuality, rigor and correctness of the work. “
Challenges: Cura Personalis for educators “The educational innovation means a deep split from the type of education that the teachers received, greater effort with pedagogical creativity and group integration.”
Challenges: Formation of Families “One of the first challenges identified by the two schools was the formation of the students’ families in terms of the new way of understanding the school and the educational process. A large number of parents demonstrate a pragmatic and utilitarian view of education, limited to the acceptance of students to university entrance exams. “
Conclusions The two schools visited perceived how deep and serious the

dissonance of the current school with the demands of contemporary society, the technological culture, the conception of the subject and society is. This critical analysis showed the directors that the school situation urgently needs a solution and they were moved by the political will to look for this solution. “

“A fundamental step in any attempt at innovation is to involve directors and teachers to devote themselves in a programmatic and continuous way to the study of pedagogical alternatives. The schools did not rely on the representativeness procedure, but insisted on the widest possible participation. “

“Once the Jesuit pedagogy is eclectic, educators are mobilized to visit other sources of inspiration – schools or documents – but they do not apply these data mechanically. Instead they exercise their autonomy by collecting, with discernment, what is most appropriate to their context. “

“This innovative path has no end or return, because the world in which we live has change as its main characteristic. That is why the directors and educators of San Gabriel and Javeriano are happy with the achievements. And they are convinced that it is necessary to always be attentive to the signs of the times, to know how to discern the most pertinent answers. “

Sources: FLACSI, Colegio San Gabriel (pictures), Jesuit Schools Global Map