Quality Education for Fragile Ecuador

I bet this is your dream life- wake up in the morning, open your eyes to the rising of the sun, have breakfast with the soothing breeze on the beaches of the Pacific; take a flight or a bus and mount the lofty mountains of the Andes just in time to have lunch and then lay your head on a bed somewhere in the Amazons. It is unclear whether anyone has actually tried this feat, but it is something that everyone in Ecuador boasts of, including the President. In Peter Greenberg’s Royal Tour, Rafael takes everyone on a guide across his country.

Nourished by rivers from the mountain peaks in the Sierra, flowing eastward to the Amazon river or westward to the pacific, the country is one of the 17 mega-diverse countries of the world.

The country doesn’t just sit on the Equator, it also plays host to important points on the world’s longest mountain range- the phenomenal, poetic Andes.

It’s however not all bed of roses in Ecuador. The country doesn’t just sit on the Equator, it also plays host to important points on the world’s longest mountain range- the phenomenal poetic Andes. Ecuador is therefore constantly at risk of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tectonic activities in the hinterland as well as raging flood on the Pacific Coast.

Ecuador is therefore constantly at risk of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tectonic activities in the hinterland as well as raging flood on the Pacific Coast. Natural disasters are always an imposing threats to the country and what better way to build resilience than education?

Fortunately, this article is about more than a presidential tour or Ecuador’s fragility. It’s about the bedrock of the development of any society- education. Education in old Ecuador was marked by empty policies in the early 80s. For a country that was founded in the 1840s, the introduction of Private Universities in 1946 by President Ibarra came after generations of generations. From 2006 to 2015, the country experienced large-scale transformation of the education sector following the introduction of a new education plan, the Ten Year Education Plan (Plan Decenal de Educación [PDE]) which outlined specific policies aimed at improving education.

By 2006, forty-two percent of the population had not finished the ten years of basic general education, and only 12.1% of the population had finished the complete studies for a high school diploma (Ministerio de Educación del Ecuador, 2007)
The country participated in a regional ranking test at the time and in reading, Ecuador ranked twelfth in third grade and thirteenth in sixth grade out of fourteen countries that took part. Ten years later, Ecuador would improve to be around average, compared to other countries in Latin America (UNESCO, 2015)
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This change can be attributed to changes between 2008 and 2011. Ecuador saw the introduction of the National Development Plan- Plan Nacional para el Buen Vivi and further legislations on education. As of 2011, education is compulsory for all pupils in primary and secondary education between 5 and 17 years of age.
The government of Rafael Correa has also made significant investment in the education sector, providing free books, free snacks, uniforms and even transportation. Education in Ecuador is now available to almost everyone; the main question remains however, what kind of education?
Ecuador has had numerous education plans, but they have lacked a needed focus on quality in the classroom (Belletini, Arellano & Espín, 2015)
 Interacting with an average Ecuadorian student will make you marvel why majority cannot provide opinions on discussion, they cannot describe simple phenomenons and even if they’ll usually use mismatched explanation from their textbook content.33883191760_fb0b98d551_h
I once saw a researcher say of Education in Latin America that it is more Quantity and no Quality.
  • The understanding of education as a right is highly distended in the mind of most people. For instance, because education is a right, most students take the teacher for granted. He is obliged to teach, and they can choose to learn or not.
  • Students are given unlimited leeway disguised as ‘opportunities’. So if you had an homework to present on Monday, it would mean wickedness on the part of the teacher if he doesn’t allow you present it on Friday.
  • The concept of showing rather than doing is killing Latin America. Teachers for instance need to show that they were in class, students need to show that they learnt. It usually doesn’t really matter if the teacher just sat it out in class or if the student copied classwork from his mate, that is cloaked group-work.
  • Facilities are misused or underused in Latin America. For instance, most schools today have the kind of free WiFI Nigerian university students crave for, yet when students have homework they need to browse about, one excuse is I didn’t have Internet.
  • In South America, almost everything is family business cause families stick together forever- even in school. So if you’re late, the gate-man could allow you go unpunished cause he happens to be your in-law.

With great Rights come great Responsibilities. Students have rights but there are limitations to Fundamental Human Rights and one of the most important limitation is that the rights of A cannot infringe on the rights of B, neither can it disrupt the general order of the society.

How then can Ecuador and other Latin America turn around their weaknesses for strengths?

  1. With great Rights come great Responsibilities. Students have rights but there are limitations to Fundamental Human Rights and one of the most important limitation is that the rights of A cannot infringe on the rights of B, neither can it disrupt the general order of the society.
  2. Life doesn’t give us a million ‘mañana’s. The feeling that there will always be time to grab the same opportunities make many Latinas lackadaisical and this mentality should be jettisoned cause it limits the potential of this great continent in many ways.
  3. I prefer to achieve than to show that I have achieved. We need to work hard in silence and let success make the noise. This single reason is why Latin America’s many very beautiful policies have always been eye-service; everyone wants to show what he has done rather than do what he should.
  4. Use staff from outside the community in order to get rid of sentiments and foster  new relationships.
  5. Make use of every opportunity life presents cause you might never get the same opportunity in the same form ever in your life.

With the amount of facilities and investment available now, I sincerely believe Ecuador can be a global leader in Education. But the government and every stakeholder needs to realize that

it is not just how far you go but how well; and you can go very far and do very well at the same time

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Sources
  • All photos are from the Ministerio de Educacion’s Flickr account.
  • Bellettini, O., Arellano, A., & Espín, W. (2015). Ecuador: Learning to work together. In S. Schwartzman (Ed.), Education in South America (305-328). London: Bloomsbury.
  • Ministerio de Educación del Ecuador. (2007). Ten year education plan in Ecuador 2006- 2015. Quito, Ecuadod
  • UNESCO. (2015). Resume ejecutivo informe de resultados TERCE. Santiago, Chile.
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