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Ecuador

Administration, Finance, & Educational Research


A program of institutional diversity and of acquisition and differentiation according to market trends is part of the desired reform in the present decade. The market route to mass higher education, higher education markets and public policy, government strategy toward education, and the role of the university in promoting and developing technology are all part of the necessary strategic planning that must come from the Ministry of Education with the cost sharing mechanism already in play. Curricular changes based on these are certainly part of every rector's concern in Ecuador. Many have already started to create pools, internally or with other universities, to offer more training facilities and to develop educational packages that will be at the disposal of students in remote areas and other places or regions. Some are also developing a "flexible delivery" mode, meaning that parts of the courses are delivered traditionally, while others are based on the internet or other formats. Distance learning programs and modules, virtual courses, and virtual universities are already issues of higher education. The roles of international organizations such as UNESCO are being looked at in regard to them.

The successful expansion of the Ecuadorian educational system created its own set of problems. Construction of schools failed to keep up with the increase in students. A significant proportion of teachers lacked full accreditation, especially at the levels of secondary and higher education. These deficiencies were most evident in the countryside where the percentage of uncertified primary teachers was estimated to be double that of the cities. Finally, despite enrollment increases by the 1980s, the percentage of school-aged children attending school lagged. Rates were particularly low for rural primary school aged children. Relatively few children continued beyond the first cycle of secondary school. At this time, about 20 percent of primary and secondary schools were privately operated. Ecuador had about 12 state universities and 5 private universities throughout the sierra and the costa. There were a number of polytechnic schools and teachers' colleges that offered specialized postsecondary studies. Ten percent of the country was illiterate, and there were reading and writing centers and schools for adults. The official discourse of the recent governments of Ecuador has centered on blaming the teachers and their representative organization, the UNE, for the current education crises. Promotion of individual school autonomy and greater involvement by parents and the community are popular with the Education Ministry.

President Jamil Mahuad and his minister of education, in compliance with international institutions, implemented a project called the "Immediate and Long Term Plan for the Ministry of Education and Culture" that synthesizes its agenda for the education sector. To apply its educational proposals, the government used legal instruments that included the new Constitution of the Republic and various projects financed with international resources, such as the EBPRODEC (which attends to the main marginalized urban educational centers), PROMECER (which administers the main rural education centers), and PROMET 1 and 2 (which attend to technical education). These instruments are linked with putting legal parameters on teacher collective bargaining and training. The imposition of legal controls through regulations on the National Teachers Qualification Scale, collective bargaining, demonstrating, assembling, and striking.

In 1994, the Ministry of Education proposed new curricula reforms that contemplated three steams of education: basic education for the majority, technical or career education, and special education aimed at forming the new educated elite. This proposal met widespread disapproval from the teacher's union and was suspended due to activities of the National Educators Union. The National Congress approved the Ecuador Family Freedoms Act, which would require two hours of religious instruction. A large national movement spearheaded by the teachers claims to have prevented this law from entering into effect.

In April 1998, the National Constituent Assembly incorporated the decentralization of financial, pedagogical, and administrative aspects of the educational system into the new Constitution. It also revised the basis of payment of teacher salaries on measured performance. The teacher's union blamed the World Bank for special reference to the savings that can be made to the educational budget through increasing the number of students per class and noted that the World Bank argued that since they have measured no substantive increase in academic performance when class sizes are reduced from 45 to 35, these reductions are therefore costly and unnecessary. The teacher's union has claimed that while decentralization would appear a positive measure, it is really a policy whose primary purpose is to reduce the central government's financial and administrative responsibility for education and move even further away from an equitable national teacher pay scale. Local authorities supplement these funds when they can and teachers are badly paid when they cannot. Thus there is a reduction of educational resources for the poorest schools, a municipalization which becomes a kind of privatization since it is from local resources that the best schools are largely supported. The teacher union has argued that this "privitization" in the area of education is not a total privatization of the service but a privatization of the management of education. There are diverse formulas, such as cost recovery, the suppression of obstacles to the creation of private schools and universities, study vouchers, and "free choice" of school selection through public subsidies for private teaching. The teacher's union argues that while central government money is saved, according to World Bank planning, studies indicate that students from the upper classes showed a slight improvement, while those from lower income families showed a sharp drop in their performance. In 1994, the Chilean Ministry of Education, who had enacted a plan like this one, recognized that these policies had had negative effects on the quality of education. Part of larger economic austerity measures, they were to have helped to drop the inflation rate of 50 percent in the early 1990s to a more reasonable amount by the new millennium. The Ecuadorian reforms of the late 1970s, increasing the democratization of the primary and secondary systems, has put great pressure on higher education. This pressure brings greater efficiency and reform policies. Reform at the institutional level will not replace a larger reform policy in bringing change. Among the rather piecemeal changes is an increase in the number of universities, implementation of student fees in state universities, development of a program of voluntary accreditation, and creation of private universities. These reforms have come largely from external demands of a tactical rather than strategic nature. Several attempts have been made to organize a systematic and centralized process of development.

While the Ministry of Education is training teachers to teach better, Fundacyt is teaching students and professors how to conduct research. Part of the plan is to establish a world network for research and technology. Thirty universities in Ecuador are currently tied to the network.

Universities receive computers, get connected to the world, and develop their own databases in their primary fields, which are then used to support science and technology research. UNESCO supports the centrality of educational research, saying: "It is evident that no higher education system can fulfill its function and be a viable ally for society in general, if part of its teaching staff and its departments do not carry out any research work, in accordance with particular institutional goals, the academic potential and material resources" (Tunnermann 1996).

All schools are run by the Ministry of Public Education, which has control over the curricula it prescribes for schools, public and private. All schools are recognized only when a representative of the ministry has supervised final exams. State preprimary and primary schools are administered through provincial directorates of education, which employ more than 200 inspectors and a small group of inspectors that are attached to the ministry. At the secondary level, inspection is the responsibility of centrally based officials who specialize in a particular type of secondary school, such as academic, vocational, and normal. Because the Ministry of Education is in charge of all public and private schools in Ecuador, all schools must follow ministry approved instructional programs. The Ministry of Education is divided into five major agencies, all of which report back to the Minister of Education. The first agency is the Department of Educational Planning, which is responsible for the augmentation of all educational programs. The second agency is the Office of the Technical Director of Education, which administers and supervises activities such as adult and music education. The third agency is the Division of Internal Affairs. The fourth agency is Internal Administration. The final agency is the Department of School Construction.

Additional topics

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceEcuador - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education