Ecuador's new equal opportunities pact for education

A 2014 pilot project pushing equal opportunities for education saw university admission rates for indigenous peoples jump from 7 to 18 percent.

Ecuador has signed a new pact to guarantee equal opportunities for minorities and marginalized populations in the country to access higher education, according to local media.

The move is meant to benefit marginalized communities, such as indigenous and Afro-Ecuadoreans, to ensure that they have equal opportunity to enter not only high school but also the university system and other higher forms of education.

According to observers, this equality had been dismantled in the country because of previous neoliberal policies, which encouraged private education that favored those privileged classes that could afford it.  

“This perverse ideology tried by all means to reinstate the old hacienda system in which a privileged few by large fortunes and estates were able to access not only secondary, but university education,” reported journalist Werner Vasquez Von Schoettler in Ecuador's the El Telegrafo Tuesday, adding that “it has taken years to return to a sound public policy for higher education.”

The “historic pact” – considered as such by many – was signed by social organizations, university officials and the government educational body Senescyt last week, and has been dubbed the “Grand National Pact for Equality of Opportunity for Access to Higher Education.”

“It is not perfect, but it has a clear course: democratizing knowledge, promote innovation, science and technology, but especially encourage quantitative and qualitative human talent... And to do that you have to design and implement public policies that put an end to discrimination in access to peoples and nationalities to higher education,” reported Von Schoettler.  

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The pact was designed and put in place after a 2014 pilot project promoting equal opportunities to education saw a drastic increase in university admissions for marginalized communities.

This included indigenous communities where admission rates increased from 7 to 18 percent in the one year alone, according to Nodal Universidad.     

The move is the latest in Ecuador's policies that promote the concept of “Buen Vivir” or good living, an indigenous philosophy of development based on the promotion of wellbeing and community, rather than a focus on profit.  

Telesur |

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