Lorena Tapia: “The Galápagos careers must be oriented towards the local economy”
In July of this year, the preliminary report on the relevance of new higher academic options in the archipelago will be delivered. The study is in charge of the Special Government Council and the Senescyt.
Education and the strengthening of agriculture are two of the pillars on which the Galápagos Government Council currently works.
On these issues, Lorena Tapia, president of the Island Council, spoke with newspaper EL TELÉGRAFO and said that there will be total intervention of the educational infrastructure of the province, where 6,000 students are trained between first of basic and third of baccalaureate.
What is the reform proposed by the Ministry of Education for the basic and baccalaureate level?
There is a change of the curriculum with the specific incorporation of environmental elements, which today is optional, but it is mandatory in all institutions, so that teachers know how to take advantage of the natural spaces of the islands and thus achieve greater citizen awareness.
What is the situation of higher education in the islands?
This aspect is a very important challenge because in the Galapagos there has never been a study of educational relevance and that analyzes supply and demand. The Governing Council along with the Secretariat of Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (Senescyt) agreed to develop the relevance study with surveys to teachers and students to determine what are the needs of staff and assess how the careers are offered to the moment.
When will the first results of the study be?
The analysis will be at the beginning of July and then we will go back to the working tables to execute the recommendations, that is, we will establish which careers should be kept at a distance and which should be face-to-face. Currently there is already an infrastructure that is in charge of the Central University of Ecuador (Galapagos headquarters) and that is abandoned.
Should the current academic offer be maintained?
We are convinced that there must be a transition of the Galapagos economy. This implies that it cannot be used only for tourism and environmental issues, because despite being its forte, the vulnerability of its space has made trained professionals available, but unable to work. There is no room for more people in this area.
What careers would you sign up for?
I think we must turn our eyes to the countryside to strengthen agriculture, which has great potential, including genetics. In the world there is no other tomato like this one, but in these years the cultivation was abandoned and there is a total dependence of the continent on perishable products that could be produced; that is why we have resumed work with the productive sectors. In the dairy area, for example, there are already necessary certificates, including biosecurity, so we are ready to generate the restriction of yogurt because it is desired, quality and local production.
What professionals do the islands require at the moment?
I believe that a necessary race in Galapagos – with a view to the construction of the deepwater dock – is that of port services. The priority will be to respond to the demand of the Galapagos society that wants higher education, but the offer must be marked in the local economy in order to guarantee the security of work to the professional.
What products are produced in the Archipelago?
At the moment there are oranges, watermelons, melon, tomatillo, lettuce, milk of excellent quality and that’s why the restrictions are.
Does the production not supply the local market?
The problem is the technology that does not allow, but produce by seasonality and, in addition, there is the cost structure. In both topics we work so that the producers offer competitively in cost and quality, and the inhabitants prefer those and not those of the continent; this would generate sources of employment.
Is the field abandoned?
There are few farmers and for that reason the people who dedicate themselves to the agriculture have been forced to resort to manpower of the continent, since the one of Galápagos does not want to work in that.
The same problem exists in the management of livestock: professionals must be imported, which – by Galápagos regulations – have to leave the islands when the contract ends and with that the knowledge is gone. Therefore, producers must teach again to vaccinate and start the process. The great challenge is to generate jobs for Galapagos people convinced that they are profitable. (I)