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Ecuador Receives UNESCO’s Literacy Prize

Ecuador Receives UNESCO’s Literacy Prize

Posted by Juan Gavasa on September 09, 2014

Ecuador’s literacy project has been named the winner of UNESCO’s Rey Sejong Literacy Prize. The prize was received on Monday, August 8, in Bangladesh by Ecuador’s Minister of Education, Augusto Espinosa. 

Espinoza said that 325,000 people have benefited in 2012 and 2013 from its program that not only teaches reading and writing, but also citizenship, health and nutrition. 

He noted that education in indigenous communities is provided in the mother tongue of the people, with special attention given to their cultural views. As a result more than 44,000 people have learned to read and write in the Kichwa language. Moreover 29,000 people of the Montubia group have participated, and 6,287 people from Afro-Ecuadorian groups.  

At the inauguration of the 2014-2015 school year, President Rafael Correa explained that UNESCO prize honors excellence and innovation in the area of literacy around the world. The aim is to support effective literacy practices and offer incentives for the development of dynamic, literate societies.  The President said that the prize received by Ecuador was a recognition of the achievements of a program developed to make sure “no child would be left without an adequate school.” 

María Ester Lemus, an advisor for the Ministry of Education of Ecuador, reported the benefits offered to  participants, saying the project,  "has contributed to reducing social, ethnic, and cultural inequalities; all participants have shown an increase in self-esteem and a better relationship with their families and communities. This wellbeing allows local production activities to be incorporated into mass initiatives and community enhancement, motivated by government institutions or local or private bodies, allowing them to boost their quality of life”.

According to UNESCO, in 2010 Ecuador’s literacy rate was 93.20%, but in 2012 and 2013, this had increased due to the program that is active in both urban and rural settings. In general, participants are  aged over 15 who have never attended school, or who were enrolled at some stage but have since forgotten what they learned. 

The “Yes I Can” method, initiated in a joint agreement with the Ecuadorian and Cuban Ministries of Education, is applied in the 13 provinces with the lowest literacy rates. It consists of a six-month programme of video classes. Whilst the Manuela Sáenz Methodology, applied in 11 provinces all over the country, includes a rights-based approach that features learning centred on the communities’ surroundings and their social and cultural dynamics. Project goals for 2014 include reaching out to 100,000 people. 

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