Education is a fundamental part of a child’s future, since it can determine the opportunities that a child has. Within Ecuador many factors play into the quality of education that a child can have such as their gender, ethnicity and their geographical location. Indigenous groups tend to live in rural areas and are at a disadvantage, since most quality schools are located in urban areas. Traveling to the city is a huge time commitment, and cultural norms restrict the oldest child from attending school. This commonly accepted value allows for the indigenous population to have a higher illiteracy rate. The few schools that are present in indigenous communities lack qualified teachers, and since they aren’t reciecing a proper education they have less career and higher education opportunities.

This morning we had two guest speakers named Megan and Lucy come to discuss the Ecuadorian education system. Megan is in Ecuador on a Fulbright scholarship, and Lucy is here with the Peace Corps, and they both teach English. One test. It determines your whole life in Ecuador. This one standardized test tells you what career paths you can take, and in doing so your income and higher education opportunities are decided based on this one exam. If a child lacked a proper education they were automatically placed into a cycle of poverty, since they were likely to not perform well on the exam that laid their whole future out for them. The is very little mobility in this system, since even if you achieve a high score you can’t aspire for a career path below your score. The only way to achieve mobility in this system is by retaking the exam.

In the afternoon we attended an alternative university architecture class at Andean University. This college is strictly for adults and is taught by people who are trained in the field. They aspire to connect back to their roots, and we built a brick out of soil, straw and water. My peers and I were determined to find the right consistency for our brick and after a few trials and a couple of dirty palms we got it.

Being El Lider Del Dia was stressful, since you had to juggle and plan for multiple activities. I learned that time management skills and being flexible is extremely important when leading a large group of people.