Ecuador's literacy fiasco

During Rafael Correa's government (2007-2017) there were two failed attempts at "eradicating illiteracy" in Ecuador. In 2009, a Patria Alfabetizada (Literate Homeland) declaration had to be changed to Patria Alfabetizándose (Homeland in the Process of Becoming Literate). In 2015, the Ministry of Education informed that the 2006-2015 Ten-Year Education Plan had been accomplished; one of its eight policies was "eradicating illiteracy". As it turned out, the claim was once again false.

Sin leer ni escribir: Visión 360 - Ecuavisa (Oct. 23, 2017)

In 2009, on September 8th, International Literacy Day, Rafael Correa's government declared Ecuador as Patria Alfabetizada (Literate Homeland). Minister of Education Raúl Vallejo informed that the illiteracy rate had been reduced from 9% to 2,7% between 2007 and 2009 (420.888 newly literate people). The celebration took place at the Jocay Stadium in the city of Manta. Dr. Edouard Matoko, UNESCO Representative for Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela, supported the declaration. President Correa addressed the nation and said: "In two years we have done what no government did in decades".

One month later, at the 35th Session of UNESCO's General Conference in Paris (6-23 October, 2009), minister Vallejo shared Ecuador's achievement. Here is his speech (Spanish).

Four months later, the government changed Patria Alfabetizada with Patria Alfabetizándose. Based on the 2009 national empoyment and unemployment survey, the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC) informed that the illiteracy rate in the country was 7,8%. Between 2007 and 2009 the illiteracy rate had experienced a small reduction (7.92% in 2007, 7.62% in 2008, 7.76% in 2009).

In 2015, Minister of Education Augusto Espinosa informed the nation that the eight policies of the Ten-Year Education Plan (2006-2015) had been accomplished. The Plan, prepared during President Palacios' government (2005-2007), was approved in a popular consultation held in November 2006. Policy 4 of the Plan referred to eradicating illiteracy. 

According to an evaluation report of the Plan published by the Ministry of Education in February 2016, all 8 policies/goals had been met.  

However, a second evaluation report publisehd by the ministry in October 2016 concluded that the illiteracy rate in 2015 was 5,54% and that the goal had not been met.
"395.229 people were made literate through the Basic Literacy for Youth and Adults Project, which reduced the illiteracy rate from 8,6% in 2006 to 5,54% in 2015."  

Based on information provided by the government, in 2014 UNESCO's Literacy Jury awarded Ecuador the King Sejong Literacy Prize.

"The Ministry of Education of Ecuador has reached close to 325,000 beneficiaries in 2012 and 2013 with its Basic Literacy Education for Youth and Adults Project.
For 2014, the project has set itself the challenge of reaching out to 100,000 people. The initiative will be extended to 2015."
- UNESCO, Inclusive programme wins 2014 UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize for Ecuador, 12 August 2014.
The Project was also included by UIL-UNESCO in a list of "Effective Literacy Programmes".
▸ In September 2017, Lenin Moreno's government announced a literacy campaign called Campaña Todos ABC. The campaign aims at young people and adults over 15 years of age interested in learning to read and write and/or completing basic education and secondary education. The document presented by minister of education Fander Falconí informed that 414.813 people had been made literate during Correa's government between 2011 and 2017, thanks to the Basic Literacy for Youth and Adults Project, and indicated that 660.000 persons remained illiterate in the country. The new literacy campaign plans to reach 200.000 of them until the year 2019.

Thus, for the second time in the last decade the government failed to declare Ecuador Patria Alfabetizada. The first time there was an official celebration. The second time there was no celebration, the media and the population were not even aware of the ministerial reports and claims. In both cases the information was inaccurate. In both cases, UNESCO played a role.

It is evident that the country continues to face a major challenge in terms of youth and adult literacy.  Among others because in modern times it is acknowledged that literacy is a long process that is not aimed at "eradicating illiteracy" but at ensuring that people effectively learn to read and write and use reading and writing in their daily lives.

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