From the Chair of the Guiding Committee Christine Wykes

I am delighted that you have turned to these pages on the WEB to find out something about the World Education Fellowship International. Its principles are listed on these pages and also the type of activities in which it engages. This is an organisation of long standing (founded in 1921) and which has spread through individual and group efforts to countries across the world. It is truly an international fellowship.

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Centenary Milestones


Theosophical Society

The seeds for the establishment of the New Education Fellowship appeared to have been sowed when founder English theosophical educationist Beatrice Ensor (1885–1974) joined the Theosophical Society which had been founded in 1875. Ensor joined the likes of Indian anti-colonial nationalist Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), who took the membership of the Society in 1891. 


Theosophical Fraternity in Education

Seven years into her membership of the Theosophical Society,  Beatrice Ensor - who was Beatrice Nina de Normann until her marriage in 1917 - helped found the ‘Theosophical Fraternity in Education' along with  a group of mainly European educators. Also in 1915, Ensor became the Organising Secretary of the Theosophical Educational Trust, the 'parent' body of Theosophical Fraternity in Education.


Education for the New Era Journal

New Era in Education - formerly Education for the New Era  journal started as a periodic newsletter in 1919 until its formal launch in 1920 - a year before the 1921 maiden conference of the New Education Fellowship in Calais, France. Beatrice Ensor continued as founding Editor. (Later, Dr Elizabeth Rotten, NEF Vice President & Chair of the German-Speaking Section, was the founding editor of  the German-language version of the New Era journal, Das Werdende Zeitalter.)


New Education Fellowship

Beatrice Ensor (third left) with her leadership team at the WEF Conference in Calais in 1921
Beatrice Ensor (third left) with her leadership team at the WEF Conference in Calais in 1921

Beatrice Ensor founded the New Education Fellowship (NEF) as an international voluntary and non-partisan organisation. The NEF's main goals were to promote the new education and to develop a strong international network.  The formal launch of NEF in 1921 took place at the end of its maiden conference in Calais, France.  Ensor became the founding president along with French educationist Dr Adolphe Ferriere (1879-1960), and German educationist Dr Elizabeth Rotten (1882-1964) as vice presidents.


Montreux, Canada

The New Education Fellowship held its first  international conference outside Europe in 1923. The theme of the Montreux conference was “Education for Creative Service”; it attracted 300 participants. 


New Education Fellowship Section in Scotland

The New Education Fellowship began the formations of national sections worldwide with the first section established in Scotland in 1924.  


New Education Fellowship Sections in Europe

NEF Conference in Locarno in 1927

The New Education Fellowship's formations of national sections continued. In 1926, Denmark Section (the Free School or Den frie skole) was formed, followed by additional sections (in 1927), in Holland, Poland, Norway,  Finland and England. Also in 1927, the New Education Fellowship held its third international conference in Locarno, Switzerland, with 2,400 participants (which included 162 NEF members from the United States many of whom took interest in NEF when Beatrice Ensor visited two years earlier). 


New Education Fellowship in West Bengal, India

Following his visit to Europe and meeting with the leadership of the New Education Fellowship, Poet Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) returned to India to co-found a NEF group in Santiniketan, West Bengal. In February 1936, the New Education Fellowship (Santiniketan) India organised a featured event at the Calcutta University 'Education Week'. The venue was the University's Senate Hall.


New Education Fellowship in America

Following Beatrice Ensor's visit to the United States in 1925, the New Education Fellowship attempted to merge with the Progressive Education Association of America.  The merger was unsuccessful, but by 1932, the Progressive Education Association of America became the New Education Fellowship American Section. 


New Education Fellowship in Australia

The New South Wales-based New Education Fellowship Australian Section was formed in 1937. In September of the same year in NSW, the New Education Fellowship held a conference on the theme of “Education for Complete Leaving – The Challenge of Today”. The conference was funded by the Australian Council for Education Research (see here for the 1937 conference programmes). Thirty nine years later, in 1976, the section hosted the 1976 WEF International Conference at Macquarie University in Sydney.


New Education Fellowship Growth

By the end of 1937, the New Education Fellowship had 51 national sections and groups and published 23 magazines in 15 languages.


New Education Fellowship & UNESCO

The New Education Fellowship was profoundly influential on the creation of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1945. Historians described the New Education Fellowship as 'the midwife at the birth of UNESCO.' See also Joseph Watras' (2011) seminal work on "The New Education Fellowship and UNESCO's Programme of Fundamental Education, Paedagogica historica," vol. 47, no.1-2, pp. 191-205 (available at the UNESCO’s Digital Library).


UNESCO & UN Recognitions for New Education Fellowship

Two years after the UNESCO's Constitution was adopted in London in 1945 – and a year after it entered into force in 1946 – the New Education Fellowship was recognized as a non-governmental organisation (NGO) by the UN and UNESCO as well as earned the title of Designated United Nations Peace Messenger.


New Education Fellowship Contribution to World Peace

The UNESCO invited the New Education Fellowship ‘to prepare a memorandum on the “Techniques of Attitude Change” applicable at school age children, having a positive influence upon tensions between nations’. The NEF rose to the challenge with a 12-page document entitled, The Teacher and World Peace: a preliminary survey of fundamentals. Alex Bloom (picture), a NEF member, was one of the contributors to the hugely influential submission to the UNESCO (see also Fielding, 2014)


UNESCO Practical Support for New Education Fellowship

With the bombing of its headquarters in London in 1940, the New Education Fellowship faced a severe financial challenge and uncertainty; but thanks to generous funds provided by the UNESCO, the NEF was able to pursue its activities in the aftermath of Second World War achieving financial stability. (Paper regarding the Fellowships’ relationship with UNESCO between 1946-1973 are available here.)


Name Change to World Education Fellowship

The New Education Fellowship changed its name to the World Education Fellowship as it is known today. 


World Education Fellowship Indian Section

Thirty nine years after Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) formed a NEF's group in Santiniketan, West Bengal, Indian national WEF was created under the leadership of Dr. Mrs Madhuri Shah (1919-1989), former chairperson of the University Grants Commission, and Mr M. T. Vyas,  then Principal of the New Era School Mumbai.   


End of An Era

Beatrice Ensor died in 1974 at the ripe age of 89 years. Her death was the last of the NEF founding leadership team - including Pierre Bovet (d. 1965),  Dr Elizabeth Rotten (d. 1964); Paul Geheeb (d. 1961), Adolphe Ferrière (d. 1960), Dr Édouard Claparède (d. 1940), and Dr Jean-Ovide Decroly (d. 1932). 


Great Britain Section

The Scottish New Education Fellowship Section (founded in 1924) and the English Section (founded in 1927) merged to form the Great Britain Section of the Fellowship.


Australian (NSW) Section At 60

The Australian (NSW) Section celebrated its Diamond Jubilee on 25 July 1987. The event was held at Sydney Girls' High School.


World Education Fellowship South Africa Youth Forum

The World Education Fellowship South Africa hosted the WEF 41st International Conference resulting in the establishment of the South African Youth chapter of WEF. This in turn led to the formation of the South African Fellowship for Education Youth Forum (SAFEYF) – which later changed its name to the World Education Fellowship South Africa Youth Forum (WEFSAYF). More details here.


WEF India Hosted 42nd WEF International Conference - Photo News


World Education Fellowship Nigeria

The World Education Fellowship was launched and incorporated in Nigeria under the leadership of Professor Lawrence Ogbo Ugwuanyi, of the University of Abuja, FCT Abuja, Nigeria.


WEF Nigeria & ISCEST Nigeria

In December 2014, the World Education Fellowship Nigeria held an in-filled discussion forum at the first annual conference of the International Society of Comparative Education, Science and Technology Nigeria in Yenegoa, Bayelsa State, Nigeria. The event was chaired by Mrs Lupita Turner, WEF General Secretary.


New Era in Education Journal

New Era in Education journal Volume 100th was launched in September 2019 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates at a joint WEF-KIE Conference. The WEF Annual Centenary Lecture was also launched. The first lecture was given by Professor David Turner, WEF Hon Treasurer, in honour of the late President of the WEF Indian Section, Mrs Kallolini Hazarat. 


New Era in Education Digital Archive

Thanks to the generosity of the University College London (UCL) Library Special Collections, historical editions/issues (1920 to 1999) of New Era in Education are now digitally archived.


WEF Japan Hosted WEF Centenary Anniversary

100 years after its first international conference in Calais, France, in 1921, the World Education Fellowship held its 45th edition of conference on 11-13 September 2021. The conference was hosted by WEF Japan.


WEF Centenary Anniversary Book in Portuguese

Escola Nova em Circuito Internacional  Cem anos da New Education Fellowship, an edited book commemorating 100 years of WEF was published in Portuguese by Fino Traço Editora Ltda, Brazil. Editors: Rafaela Silva Rabelo & Diana Gonçalves Vidal. ISBN:   978-65-89011-54-5. You can read the e-copy here.



World Education Fellowship in Botswana

The World Education Fellowship Botswana Section was launched. The launch of WEF Botswana brings the total number of WEF Sections in Africa to three – others being WEF Nigeria and WEF South Africa. President of WEF Botswana is Dr Nonofo Constance Losike-Sedimo, senior lecturer in educational foundations at the University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana’s the capital city.

WEF Worldwide

WEF Japan

Prof. Hiroshi Iwama, Vice President, 1-26-9 Zenpukuji, Suginami-ku,Tokyo 167-0041 E: hiroshi006iwama@hotmail.co.jp

WEF Nigeria

Professor Lawrence Ogbo Ugwuanyi, President, Philosophy Dept. University of Abuja, Nigeria e: ugwuanyiogbo37@yahoo.com

WEF German

Prof. Dr. Gerd-Bodovon Carlsburg, Heidelberg University of Education Keplerstr. Germany email: b.v.carlsburg@web.de



The New Education Fellowship was profoundly influential on the creation of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1945. Historians described the New Education Fellowship as 'the midwife at the birth of UNESCO.' See also Joseph Watras' (2011) seminal work on "The New Education Fellowship and UNESCO's Programme of Fundamental Education, Paedagogica historica," vol. 47, no.1-2, pp. 191-205 (available at the UNESCO’s Digital Library).

WEF Events

WEF in Numbers

The primary purpose of education today is to help all of us to grow as self-respecting, sensitive, confident well-informed, competent and responsible individuals in society and in the world community. Join hands with the World Education Fellowship and be a champion of the best of progressive and traditional education in your part of the world and beyond. Contact us today.

100 Years of Progressive Education Movement
100 Years of Journal Publication & Networking
80 Years of Enduring Relationship with the Unesco

WEF People

General Secretary, WEF International
Mrs Lupita Turner
President, WEF Germany
Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Gerd-Bodo von Carlsburg
President, WEF India
Mr Rajeev Hazarat

Thinking of becoming a member of the WEF?


Individual Members


Organisations/NGOs Members


Education & Research Institutions



Ensor portrait
English Educationist & HM Schools Inspector Beatrice Ensor (1885–1974
Founding President




Adolphe Ferrière (2)
Swiss Educator Dr Adolphe Ferrière (1879-1960)
WEF Founding Vice President



Elizabeth Rotten (2)
German Educator Dr Elizabeth Rotten (1879-1964)
WEF Founding Vice President & Vice Chair of German-Speaking countries and editor of Das Werdende Zeitalter , German-language version of the New Era in Education journal.



Ovide Decroly (2)
Belgian Teacher and Psychologist Ovide Decroly (1871-1932)
WEF Founding Leadership Team
Pierre Bovet (2)
Swiss Psychologist and Pedagogue Pierre Bovet (1878-1965)
WEF Founding Leadership Team



Edouard Claparède (2)
Swiss Neurologist & Child Psychologist Edouard Claparède (1873-1940)
WEF Founding Leadership Team
Paul Geheeb (2)
German Pedagogue & Pioneer of Boarding Schools Paul Geheeb (1870-1961)
WEF Founding Leadership Team

5th WEF Centenary Event & KIE Conference

WEF Annual Centenary Lecture takes place in Madrid 27 July 2023. The WEF event is infilled into the KIE Conference.

WEF News