The country aims to improve not only the infrastructure, but also the quality of education. A World Bank official highlighted the creation of the University for educators. We are working on a new agenda in the sector.
No one disputes that education is a national priority. The debates and forums aim at the improvement of quality with equity and learning, with qualified and well-trained teachers. Schooling is important and Ecuador has made significant efforts in terms of coverage: more than 96% of people have access to the education system. But there is a pending debt: quality.
The Minister of Education, Fander Falconí, in a forum organized by The Social Contract for Education raises two problems that, in an unavoidable way, should be considered for educational change: the increase of social inequality and the deterioration of the planet.
He argues that society must achieve healthy and participatory agreements to overcome them. Let’s not forget that Ecuador has 17 million inhabitants, 4 million students and 400,000 teachers.
The improvement of quality -to overcome the causes of poverty- and the impact on the environment are two strategic directions, according to the official discourse, in which the figure of the teacher is key.
Since the 90s, Ecuador has witnessed mobilizations that gave rise to two national agreements on education, whose highest point was the approval in referendum of the eight public policies, which were then incorporated into the 2008 Constitution and the Organic Law of Education. These policies were part of the I National Education Plan and were evaluated.
The results showed improvements and advances in some fields. The World Bank (WB) Global Report 2018 recognizes “a significant increase in the enrollment rate in Latin America, especially in primary and secondary schools, in the last 50 years”. And in the case of Ecuador, Rafael de Hoyos, WB executive, acknowledges that “Ecuador has done a good job: it implemented a strategy to professionalize the teaching career, with the National University of Education”.
Investments and improvements
In addition to this, there is high public investment, the recovery of the rector of the Ministry of Education, the improvement of teachers salaries, the implementation of the evaluation system and the school infrastructure that, with the millennium schools, in which $ 500 million were invested, implied changes in the management model, but not in the learning systems and in the initial and continuing teacher training.
The education budget for 2018 amounts to $ 3’400 million dollars -the highest in history-, and of this item 70% corresponds to the payment of the teaching staff. More than 15,000 educational units exist in the country, and 80% are public prosecutors. Despite the advances in financing and coverage, Ecuador has pending subjects in the field of educational quality, which exceeds the exclusion and reduces the circle of poverty. One of the mechanisms is the new Ten-Year Plan.
Challenges for the next decade
It can be inferred from the above that Ecuador has made progress, but it must apply new public policies in the next decade, through the design of the second decennial plan with high social participation. In this context, the monitoring and monitoring of the 2021 Goals, which has the support of the Organization of Ibero-American States-OEI- are relevant.
For the educational expert, Fausto Segovia Baus, in the previous government, steps were taken in long-term planning, but sensitive points of the education system must be deepened. Among those that stand out is teacher training, evaluation tied to the quality of the learnings; the integral reform of the school; the curriculum adjusted to the diversity and the learning needs of the students.
To this is added interculturality; the incorporation of information and communication technologies, and the tenacious struggle to eliminate current gaps, which marginalize and discriminate against vulnerable sectors of the population, especially in urban-marginal and rural areas, with nutrition projects and early stimulation in early childhood.
The role of communication
Segovia emphasizes that through communication, opportunities are obtained for the generation of spaces that affect the development of critical thinking. This way, the actions of the educational communities can be linked with the participation of their actors.
The Reading Plan is an effective tool that aims to accompany the execution of public education policies, encourage the participation of citizens in the construction of consensual changes and collaborative work to achieve a reading society. Affirms that articulation is indispensable. “The agreements are important, but if they are not installed in processes articulated to society, they will only be in works: in infrastructure, and will not achieve a change in the citizen mentality. (I)