Skip to main content
IDB Program that Closes Gaps for Indigenous Students Receives International Award
  • JADENKÄ achieved improvements equivalent to over half a school year of mathematics learning for preschool students in indigenous communities.

The intercultural bilingual education program JADENKÄ has received the Khalifa International Early Learning Award, one of the most prestigious global awards in educational topics.

Ari Taen JADENKÄ (Count and Play, in the Ngäbere language) is a model of intercultural bilingual education for indigenous students to learn early mathematics and their native languages while connecting with their ancestral heritage and closing learning gaps.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, indigenous students have significant learning gaps compared to their non-indigenous peers. In fact, in Panama, where the model is implemented, indigenous preschoolers had math skills 25% below their non-indigenous peers and a 40% gap in reading.

The program evaluation shows improvements equivalent to over half a school year of mathematics learning without adding additional instruction time, with accompanying improvements in teacher competencies and benefits to students' cultural identity.

JADENKÄ emerged as part of a collaboration between the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI), the Ministry of Education, and Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA). The initiative recognized by Khalifa as the "Best Program, Curriculum, Methodology, and Teaching Practice" was financed by the Japanese Trust Funds at the IDB.

The initiative is an innovative solution to address one of the challenges faced by indigenous schools in Latin America and the Caribbean: the shortage of teachers and limited training in pedagogical skills and knowledge of indigenous culture and language necessary to provide quality intercultural bilingual education.

"It is of great importance that Khalifa gives the International Early Learning Award to an intercultural bilingual education model for preschoolers. This program demonstrates that it is possible to reduce the academic performance gap, and therefore one of the many inequalities in the region, without forcing students to choose between their academic learning and their cultural and linguistic identity," said Mercedes Mateo, Head of Education at the IDB.

JADENKÄ is the world's first randomized experiment in intercultural bilingual mathematics education at the preschool level. Based on the student's learning outcomes, it expanded to the entire Ngäbe region in Panama. The team leading the project is preparing to expand it to the Quechua language.

About the IDB

The Inter-American Development Bank is devoted to improving lives. Established in 1959, the IDB is a leading source of long-term financing for economic, social, and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB also conducts cutting-edge research projects and provides policy advice, technical assistance, and training to public- and private-sector clients throughout the region.


Planes,Maria Soledad

Planes,Maria Soledad
Jump back to top