Painting Murals, Cleaning Trash, and Learning about Ecuador´s Education System
Yesterday we unmasked some creativity skills by creating a mural for the special needs school. The mural was drawn within the physiotherapist´s office, so the drawing reflected activities the children might engage in there. Time during this task went by extremely fast. At times, the atmosphere inside of the small room was tense with concentration, but mainly, it was energizing to see our ideas come to life.
After painting, the children had special treats waiting for us back in the cafeteria. Corinne, the birthday girl, was also serenaded by the children with a Spanish rendition of ¨Happy Birthday¨!
We then walked and bussed back to the hostel for a quick lunch before we took to the streets clearing trash. Within a couple of hours, most of our bags were filled to the brim with shards of glass, bottles, diapers and almost any junk food wrapper imaginable. We later learned, from the local librarian, that often residents who feel that they are too well educated or from a higher social class, refuse to do anything that may undermine that social position. For example, they save ¨cleaning¨ chores only for people from a lower social standing. This may be the reason for why streets are not cleaned as often as they need to be.
While cleaning, we also met up with some animals hanging out in the park, such as ¨Bella¨.
Our last activity of the day involved a meeting with the librarian about Ecuador´s education system. Here are some interesting facts that we learned from her Q&A Session:
- Ecuador´s High School completion rate is approximately 70%
- In the past, children didn´t go to school because they were needed on the farm. However, in recent years, the government started a ¨no child labour¨ policy, as well as scholarships to encourage children to earn an education
- The Highland region of Ecuador has the lowest rate of High School completion – because of their strong indigenous roots
- According to the librarian, about 60% of High School graduates enroll in post-secondary education, but less than 7.5% of student finish
- In March of 2012, 14 Universities across Ecuador were closed (mainly due to internal corruption)
- The low rate of completion is due to:
- Students not taking post-secondary education seriously
- Pressure to hold a full-time job and go to school full-time to pay for tuition
- Widespread corruption in private Universities (for example, professors leaving the University shortly after receiving their money – without fulfilling their responsibilities)
- Ecuador´s new government has placed a high priority on education very recently. They now have a system in place to enforce curriculums to reduce corruption, and benchmarking procedures where students must pass a test to determine what career they are capable of going into
Overall, it was a great way to end the week. I´m looking forward to these next couple of days off though!