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Problems for Learners in EcuadorThe education systems throughout the world are a common struggle for many countries, even hitting home here in the united states
. However within Ecuador, the 4th poorest nation in South America (1), education is not a first priority. Funding, finding good teachers and, more importantly culture are real barriers for the natives in Ecuador. With these hindrances of the education system for natives in Ecuador comes an even greater struggle for the opportunities of english to be studied in Ecuador.
The funding for education is a major problem. “Ecuador spends only 1.1% of GNP (Gross National Product) on education”(2) according to research done by Education for Ecuador. The average spent on funding within Latin America is between 4% and 7%. Education is broken up into four level categories: pre-primary, primary, secondary school and higher (tertiary) education. The primary level is geared towards the age groups of 6 to 14. This level is compulsory by the Ecuadorian government, however as the children get older the percentage of students attending school drop immensely. The attendance level for primary education was at 98% in the year 2002, while levels showed at 97% in 1999 (3). According to UNESCO statistics, attendance past the primary level in 1999 dropped to 46%. However, it increased to 50% in 2002. These statistics show some growth in importance of education but it continues to show that the quality of education is not at the forefront of the country’s priorities.
Finding quality teachers is typically a struggle for the school systems in Ecuador. english is taught at all levels of education within public and private schools. Where the problem lies is in the limited pay. Teaching jobs often pay around $3-5 per hour in the classroom. The average monthly pay of teachers in 2002 was $350 USD (5). This rate of pay could make it difficult to pay for expenses of the teachers who come from abroad. The Ecuadorian embassy requires a work visa to be obtained in order to teach or work in Ecuador (4). However to get a work visa, first a job needs to be secured, then a contract needs to be signed by the employer, and finally the application needs to be submitted to the Embassy (4). Teachers from abroad can run into difficulties because most schools in Ecuador do not sign contracts. When quality teachers are found and placed in a school, teachers often find themselves in a classroom with limited resources and a wide range of age groups.
More importantly, culture plays a major role for the problems for learners in Ecuador. After the age of 14, the percentage of youth continuing in higher education drops by almost half. The culture of the natives in Ecuador see it more effective to have their children get to work and help the family in any way possible by working in the field or serving at home with the younger siblings. (2). Young women are more likely to drop out of school after the primary level of education and enter into the fields as workers for the household. Because of Ecuadorian culture having the women as workers and supporters for the families, the young men will have a
greater opportunity to continue their education. However if the family cannot support the child to continue on in higher levels, then it is rare that a child beyond the age of 14 will continue education. According to research done in 1999, only 64% of the population has completed primary education and 29% of the population has completed secondary education, and the numbers decrease significantly as the level gets higher.
Ecuador is in need of better educators because there are real problems for learners in Ecuador. If the family cannot support the individual’s education the child or adult has no opportunity for outside support to continue their skills of learning. Ecuadorians have their government funding, culture, and family situations working against the ability to learn past the primary education level much less the opportunity to study the english language. Therefore learners in Ecuador need to get their quality education at the level where all children are required to be in school.