wheat cells


The Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace (GHFP) initiated and sponsored the first International Conference for Educators in Tlaxcala, Mexico, in June 1999. It became a catalyst for a number of exciting projects, including the first and second V. T. Vittachi International Educational Conferences, an educators’ online forum, the Lewes New School, and others. The conference enabled educators to share and reflect on their individual yet inter-connected educational ideals, and opened the way for further insights.

The Tlaxcala Conference showed that innovative and alternative educational ideals can act as engines of change for existing educational systems and practices. As educators shared their experiences it became clear that, in spite of their social, cultural and economic differences, there were a number of common threads in their approaches to education:

  •  a loving and respectful environment
  •  attention to the whole person – body, mind, emotions and spirit
  •  responding to the needs of each individual
  •  nurturing each individual’s authentic talent
  •  relatively small schools of human-scale
  •  lack of bureaucracy


This corresponds to GHFP’s view of educational projects that give space for the development of a child’s innate human qualities, in a human-centred approach to education.

active schools

..tour of HCE in Practice around the World

AUSTRALASIA Korowal School is perhaps unique in having explicitly practised and promoted human-centred education for nearly 30 years. Korowal is a small school ... a community on a human scale, where teachers, parents and students know each other ... where learning accommodates the talents and special needs of every student ... where no-one gets lost Korowal is a human-centred school where relationships are the heart of the learning process ... where we educate the whole human being in a holistic way ... where we value empathy, creativity, resilience and critical thinking Korowal is a sustainable school where we aim for social, educational and environmental sustainability ... where we value quality over quantity and context over content ... where we allow time for childhood ... where students are not ranked against each other ... because education is not a race Korowal is an integrated school ... where the curriculum encourages immersion and interdisciplinary study ... where creative and formal work are integrated ... where learning groups transcend age boundaries.

INDIA Mithra Foundation The Mithra Foundation is a grass roots organisation that works directly with people living in temporary housing or Slums in Bangalore. Objectives of the foundation include: the empowerment of women and children. Most of the programmes run by the foundation are educational, in particular, students and teachers are provided with Human Rights educational training, which is hoped to help promote peace, tolerance and respect for all. Girls Education Plus The GEd serves as an information service and resource centre for anyone interested in female education, including individuals, NGOs or any other type of organisation. The key beliefs behind this project are based on the idea that the education of girls and women is vital for development and in ensuring positive changes in individuals, communities and societies. INDONESIA Sekolah Cita Buana Sekolah Cita Buana is a well established, bilingual and multicultural independent school in Jakarta. It uses an international curriculum, taught in both English and Indonesian. The philosophical focus of the school is very much based on paying attention to the student as a whole, as well as integrating a multicultural understanding into the educational experience. Bina Cita Utama Bina Cita Utama is a community school located in rural area of Rugan Sari in central Kalimantan. The school is amidst the process of registering to become an independent school using an international curriculum. Although currently being very small, it is aspiring to grow and to include both local and expatriate children within the school community. The key features of this school include its balance of Indonesian and international education approaches and its commitment to create an inclusive learning community.

ARGENTINA Terraviva Terraviva works in the Tigre community outside Buenos Aires. It is currently running a project for women in prison especially mothers with children. Terraviva organises workshops which aim to give support to these women and help them develop strategies for transformational experience in prison and life after that. The project improves the women’s communication skills and enables them to share feelings and emotions. BRAZIL CeLuAn The CeLuAn Foundation, directed by Alfonso and Ignes Luft is based in Brasil. The foundation runs a school including mainly works with families and aims to develop confidence and capacity amongst family members to express positive emotions as well as courage families to be more involved in the local community. The focus of the CeLuAn is on developing constructive family relations using the ICDP principles. The work on families and communities is an extension of the CeLuAn’s educational process within its schools, including a preschool, primary and secondary school. CANADA Children’s Peace Garden (Canada/Brazil) Initiated and organised by Illene Pevec, a teacher and educator from Canada, Children’s Peace Garden project has been developed in Vancouver, Canada and Santo Angelo, Brazil. Illene works with teachers and school children to build community gardens and through which, to inspire environmental education. Both projects provide a peaceful space for all members of the community to enjoy as well as encourage people’s awareness and understanding of their relationship with the environment. COLOMBIA Colegio Amor Colegio Amor was founded by Fundación Educativa Amor in 1988 in Soacha, a deprived area of Bogotá made up of a migrant community of mostly violently displaced families. The foundation looks at youth as an agent of promoting peace and well-being in the wider community. Colegio Amor, as its name suggests, is a ‘School of Love’. It provides food and security, protection, love and respect to all its students. It also encourages children and young people to develop skills and awareness that will prevent them from abuses and damages caused by social instability of being migrants. The school also provides educational programmes that enable young people to learn vocational skills as the preparation for a more sustainable life once leaving the school as well as rediscover culture and creativity, the foundation provides not only education to the youth, but also various community services to everyone. Colegio Amanecer Colegio Amanecer is based in a rural area of the Quindio region of Colombia. The school aims to promote ‘peace, harmony and understanding’ through education and various community activities. It takes the holistic development children as the core of its aim and these areas for development include physical, intellectual, creativity and spirituality. The school’s programme also features social and cultural inclusion and the development of skills and attitudes for living together harmoniously in the community. ECUADOR Pesta School Rebecca Wild was born in Germany in 1939 and studied Montessori and music education in Munich, New York, and Puerto Rico before moving to Ecuador in 1961. In 1977, she and her husband, Mauricio, founded in the Pestalozzi kindergarten, which eventually expanded to a primary school, then a high school. The Pesta school takes a radical approach to learning. Having no fixed curriculum or preset course of study allows space for children to be imaginative and creative and be free to direct their own learning and discovery. The Pesta method has also inspired other alternative education models in Austria, Germany, Holland, Spain and Switzerland. Rebeca published a number of books based on the Pesta school’s experience, including Raising Curious, Creative, Confident Kids, The Pestalozzi Experiment in Child-based Education Inka Samana An indigenous school in the mountains of Ecuador, that offers both elementary and high school education. The school is often organising educational trips to different places chosen by the students, who are encouraged to raise the funds through various creative projects such as woodworks, art shows, or a used article and clothing market. PARAGUAY La Vida Plena La Vida Plena is a kindergarten/preschool which was founded 9 years ago by Benita Gavilin. The project locates in a small town near the capital, in a neighbourhood of people from mixed social backgrounds. Children from 3 years up are offered opportunities for non-directive learning and self-guided learning, within an environment that is equipped with structured and non structured learning materials and large green space. The children are expected to be able to follow their own inner programme but at the same time learn to respect social limits and others.

AUSTRIA Erlebnisschule The “Erlebnisschule” is a school for children and young people aged 6 to 15, inspired by the ideas of Maria Montessori, Rebecca and Mauricio Wild and Solihin and Alicia Thom. It started ten years ago with this project. At the moment, there are 54 children who can study in a relaxed atmosphere in and outdoors. They choose their activities for themselves, work in their own pace, and learn to be responsible for themselves and for others. They develop a sense of self-worth and inner strength to meet the challenges of society. Furthermore, we focus on a close relationship with nature. The teachers provide the space so that the students can develop their inner potential. To facilitate these processes we work closely together with their parents. BRITAIN Lewes New School Lewes New School operates at a Human Scale, helping develop whole individuals, who can grow up to be valued and effective members of communities. It looks to discover what is unique about every child, and to support that uniqueness by creating a range of teaching and learning opportunities for the different styles of learning. One of the most important conditions is the small size of the school – 70 children in the main school, with small classes of up to 20 (10 in reception). The school encourage children to find their own spirit. When someone is themselves, they're happy. Helping children become truly themselves is one of the greatest gifts of education. South Downs Learning Centre South Downs Learning Centre (SDLC) provides personalised learning experience to children, young people and adult, using small learning groups and learning communities. It supports person-centred approaches to learning where learners choose their own goals and ways of meeting them – the Centre does not impose – ever – a syllabus or a content-based curriculum. The founders believe that the Centre is fundamentally about liberating potential in all and aims at assisting learners to become individuals who learn to lead a good life. GERMANY Rappelkiste (Kindergarten) & Aktive Schule Postdam (Primary School) The kindergarten Rappelkiste started in 1994 with eight children between the age of two and six years. It has now become a bigger and more stable project. In summer 2004 our project has extended to a primary school, the Aktive Schule Potsdam. Now there are 30 children, accompanied by 5 adults in a non-directive, holistic way, with respect to all aspects of life. The school is inspired by the ideas of Maria Montessori, Rebeca and Mauricio Wild, Jesper Juul and Maturana. Children choose their own activities and the main task of adults is to observe the children and create a surrounding that enables them to fulfil their needs in their individual development in a relaxed and safe surrounding. We thus also focus on emotional companionship in conflicts. The project has been growing and it is hoped to be moving into a bigger building soon and we have planned to establish a secondary school as well. PORTUGAL Roda Viva Roda Viva began in 1981 as the ‘Alfragide Project’, a kindergarten for refugee children from East Timor. It has now grown into an educational project catering for 134 children and young people from Mozambique, Angola, Cape Verde, India, Sao Tome, Guinea, Brazil and Portugal. Before joining Roda Viva, these children were considered ‘at risk’ or with ‘learning difficulties’. Roda Viva focuses on the development of each child’s self-worth and competence, encourages family participation in educational process and strives to reduce discrimination. Its main approach is based on ‘High Scope Methodology’, which uses ‘Active Learning Process’, whereby all activities are planned, initiated and evaluated by children and young people themselves. By exposing and interacting in a positive and constructive environment at Roda Viva, these children and young people learn to develop social relations that are vital for them to becoming contributing members of the society.