Interculturality and education in Ecuador
Education understood as an emancipatory tool for transformation and social change in Ecuador supports the construction of a plurinational and intercultural State for the achievement of good living. Intercultural education, in this context, offers the opportunity to transform the educational system by adopting a critical stance against hegemonic logics, prejudices and discrimination of the different or different people, also intercultural identity, promotes the recovery of historical memory and the elimination of hierarchies in a new learning environment.
In 2008, Ecuador decided to build "a new form of citizen coexistence, in diversity and harmony with nature, to achieve good living, sumak kawsay", as a commitment to the present and the future. Therefore, "Ecuador is a constitutional state of rights and justice, social, democratic, sovereign, independent, unitary, intercultural, plurinational and secular" (Constitution of Ecuador 2008). This new paradigm, this new form of coexistence cannot be achieved without a liberating educational process, which lays the foundations for change on the conscience of every human being. This process is currently called intercultural education, which is no longer restricted to the indigenous sector, but has acquired a national connotation.
The construction of an intercultural State requires a profound transformation of the values of society and of the State/government. Education plays a fundamental role in achieving change; therefore, it is necessary that those who are part of the sectors that make decisions and elaborate public policies know and manage, in an adequate manner, it is important that teachers as facilitators of the teaching-learning process, teach and strengthen the new generations of students with intercultural values and new knowledge.
In Latin America, particularly in Ecuador, it is essential to reconstruct the dominant ways of understanding concepts such as culture, identity, ethnicity, interculturality, monoculturality and intercultural education.
To begin with, culture has traditionally been conceived as the set of practices, values and principles that guide and govern a society. For some writers, "the Western conception of culture, which consists of opposing the idea of culture to that of nature, is the matrix of a multicultural and universal vision". This idea of culture as something other than nature has resulted in an understanding of culture as a stable and regular social structure.
Cultural identity from the point of view of Anthropology constitutes a type of social identity that has to do with the awareness of members of a group about their cultural differences, we can mention that identity implies a constant evolution in the processes of construction of the same identity and in relation to other identities.
Ethnicity, in Ecuador, is recognized as one of the main devices of the indigenous movement's struggle that distinguishes it from other social groups.
Multiculturalism is understood as a conception born of globalization as an instrument whose function is to control social conflict and provide conditions of stability in order to promote the capitalist accumulation model.
The following are some of the main ideas that have emerged: Intercultural Bilingual Education (EIB), popular education and the pedagogy of the oppressed, currents that sought social change taking education and the community as a point of departure. Since the 1990s, some Latin American countries have introduced the concept of interculturality into their educational guidelines in order to respond to the challenges posed by the new societies in terms of the recognition of diversity and to promote, at least from the declarative point of view, democratic coexistence among different cultural groups.
In the case of Ecuador, specifically since the 2008 Constitution, interculturality has become a fundamental element for the construction of the plurinational State and the achievement of 'good living', of sumak kawsay. The proposal of an intercultural education system, no longer only for the indigenous population and that crosses all its levels, is a proposal that, based on the interculturality approach, is a fundamental element for the construction of the plurinational State and the achievement of 'good living', of the sumak kawsay.
The concept of interculturality in Ecuador
In order to understand how the concept of interculturality has developed in Ecuador, it is important to introduce some background and the first meanings of the topic in relation to the educational context in different regions, as well as the actors that have been present. In Ecuador, the indigenous movement introduced the topic of interculturality into the political agendas. This was part of a process of vindicating difference and highlighting the conditions of exclusion and marginalization to which they had been subjected for hundreds of years. The process led to the constitutionalization of interculturality and plurinationality as fundamental principles of the State.
The struggles and different demands of indigenous groups for more rights, greater participation and the overcoming of the injustices to which they were exposed, encouraged their organization and thus contributed to the emergence of the indigenous movement in Ecuador. As a result of this process, CONAIE was born in 1986, which brings together indigenous nationalities and peoples at the national level. In 1992, on the fifth centenary of the Spanish invasion, CONAIE promoted a national mobilization in defense of the right to self-determination and territorial sovereignty of indigenous peoples, which sought to highlight the colonialism still faced by the indigenous and poor peoples of Latin America.
The recognition, promotion and validity of diversity guarantees unity and allows the coexistence, coexistence and fraternal and solidary interrelation among the Nationalities and Peoples, which guarantees the establishment of the Plurinational State. The Unity of the Nationalities and Peoples is opposed to the hegemonic force of the current legal-political and economic-cultural order imposed by the white-mestizo ruling class. Unity in Diversity will guarantee the constitution and consolidation of the Ecuadorian Society, which the Plurinational State should promote, with the participation and commitment of all the Nationalities and Peoples until achieving economic, political and social development in mutual cooperation, reciprocity and equality (CONAIE 2007).
Interculturality in the Constitution, the National Plan for the Good Life
The incorporation of interculturality in the Constitution implied duties and obligations in several dimensions. At the macro level, interculturality is one of the principles for the exercise of public institutions and for the formulation and execution of development plans and public policies.
It must be taken into account in international relations and Latin American integration. Therefore, the structure of the Ecuadorian State must approach an approach of respect and inclusion of the diverse cultural forms existing in the country and the world. At the regional and local level, interculturality frames the political organization (indigenous or Afro-Ecuadorian territorial districts) that gives fulfillment to collective rights. And, at the micro level, it has the responsibility to generate intercultural relations in all spaces, it falls on people, individuals, families, groups, collectives, communities and different economic, social and political sectors of the nation. In addition, access to different public goods and services (health, education, housing, communication and information) must be under an intercultural approach, i.e., cultural diversity must be a foundation for the provision of rights. In the education sector, for example, the 2008 Constitution mentions that: "it is the right of every person and community to interact between cultures and participate in a learning society".
The State shall promote intercultural dialogue in its multiple dimensions" (Art. 28). Art. 343 states that "the national education system shall integrate an intercultural vision in accordance with the geographic, cultural and linguistic diversity of the country, and respect for the rights of communities, peoples and nationalities." It also guarantees the existence of the intercultural bilingual education system SINEIB.
Based on the above considerations, the National Plan for Good Living 2009-2013 (SENPLADES 2009) incorporates interculturality as a transversal axis in the elaboration, execution and monitoring of a new way of promoting development plans and redistribution of public income. To this end, it was "necessary to recognize diversity as a substantial part of society through intercultural learning, which allows us to nourish ourselves with diverse cosmovisions, knowledge, epistemologies and cultural practices" (SENPLADES 2009).
Ecuadorian Intercultural Education
In Ecuador there are currently efforts to reinforce the theme of interculturality in national education systems, whose implementation should be based on proposals that address interculturality from a more comprehensive vision, such as the interrelation of knowledge of native and western cultures or 'epistemic interculturality'. This concept proposes "to confront and transform the colonial designs that have positioned the knowledge of indigenous peoples as non-modern and local knowledge, as opposed to the universality and non-temporality of Western knowledge", which has led to a new social condition of knowledge.
The 2008 Constitution recognized Ecuador as a plurinational and intercultural State, and the references to education emphasized its intercultural character, a fundamental condition for the achievement of 'good living'. In 2010 the LOES was approved and in April 2011 the LOEI came into force. These two laws also emphasize interculturality as a commitment to the formation of people capable of transforming society.
The Ministry of Education highlights the strengthening of EIB as an important advance in recent years. It indicates that there are 21 Intercultural Bilingual Education Districts, whose incumbents belong to the nationality of the majority population in that territory, and 190 intercultural bilingual educational circuits. In recent years, the Ministry of Education has made progress in the implementation of the Millennium Education Units (UEM). These are defined as "public educational institutions, with a high-level experimental character, based on innovative technical, pedagogical and administrative concepts, as a reference of the new public education in the country", through which it aims to "offer a high quality public educational service in rural areas" (Ministry of Education 2015).
Intercultural education has been long in Ecuador. Various sectors continue to work with different initiatives and multiple efforts in favor of strengthening intercultural education for bilingual teachers so that they can have adequate training and professional training for all teachers, researchers and investigators, as well as interculturalization, In universities as well as the Higher Pedagogical Institutes (ISPED) and the Higher Intercultural Bilingual Pedagogical Institutes (ISPEDIB), the Ministry of Education should make improvements in texts, curricular materials and conduct workshops for native-speaking teachers at the national level there is a lack of bilingual teachers.
Bilingual teachers should support the recovery of cultural historical memory, the basis of identity security and linguistic pride of our peoples, the democratization of public space to break with the hegemony of power, and the promotion of dialogue to sensitize, raise awareness and humanize, therefore, it is essential that educators are capable of self-criticism within their own culture, to recognize which values can be promoted, which should be criticized and, if necessary, eliminated.
At the same time, didactics is designed to answer the questions: Who to teach, what to teach, and where to teach? This definition of didactics was developed relatively long ago. This definition of didactics needs significant clarification due to the fact that the amount of knowledge needed for a person grows quickly and dramatically. It is important for every student to instill the ability to independently replenish his knowledge, to navigate in the rapid flow of scientific and technical information. The most important and ongoing task of the school - to achieve from students a deep and lasting acquisition of scientific knowledge, to develop the ability and skills to apply them in practice, to form a materialistic worldview and moral and aesthetic culture. It is necessary to organize the learning process so that students have a good grasp of the studied material, i.e. the content of education. All this requires teachers to think deeply about the theoretical foundations of education and to develop appropriate methodological skills.
The educational process should be conducted so that students acquire more knowledge independently, forming in the course of learning psychological, theoretical and practical readiness to self-education. The study of the learning process, the content of education in school is engaged not only in didactics, but also methods of teaching individual learning processes.
According to the 2008 Constitution (Section five, Art. 26), guaranteeing equal, inclusive and participatory education for all sectors of Ecuadorian society in order to achieve 'good living', is one of the priorities of Ecuadorian public policies.
"Education shall be centered on the human being and guarantee his or her holistic development, within the framework of respect for human rights, sustainable environment and democracy; it shall be participatory, compulsory, intercultural, democratic, inclusive and diverse, of quality and warmth; it shall promote gender equity, justice, solidarity and peace; it shall stimulate the critical sense, art and physical culture, individual and community initiative, and the development of competencies and capacities to create and work (Constitution of 2008, Art. 27).
Another key objective of the Ecuadorian education system is to promote continuous training to "guarantee an appropriate environment and conditions for collective learning and the adequate use of information from monitoring and evaluation processes in order to improve the curriculum and education" (Ministry of Education 2012). In order to achieve this goal, the Ministry of Education initiated the SIProfe program which, since 2008, has organized continuous training courses. In 2010, a total of 108,000 teachers took part in these courses (Ministry of Education 2012c). One of these courses would be dedicated to the topic of interculturality.
The National University of Education - Teacher Training
The UNAE, is a "higher education institution promoted by the State, which emerged from policies aimed at consolidating the education system, through the training of education professionals and strengthening their competencies" (UNAE 2014). Its mission is "to contribute to the training of human talent in the educational system for the construction of a just, equitable, free and democratic society through the generation of educational models of excellence characterized by scientific rigor, a focus on rights and interculturalism. The foundation of the UNAE is to contribute to the country having high-level professionals who can provide the best training to new students in the educational system. Emphasis is placed on improving the quality of education to contribute to the socioeconomic development of the country.
One of the ways that will contribute to the process is the construction of links with other universities considered emblematic as is the case of "Yachay, Ikiam and University of the Arts, as well as other national and international universities, the Pedagogical Institutes and Intercultural Bilingual Pedagogical Institutes" (Ministry of Education 2014). The articulation of UNAE with the different pedagogical institutes has been thought of as a strategy to improve the quality of education.
As for the intercultural approach, it has been incorporated in the UNAE, especially in the Bachelor's Degree in Educational Sciences with a mention in Intercultural Bilingual Education. In the curricula of the other degree programs, the intercultural, inclusion and gender approaches have been included as a subject or as part of the complementary training in workshops or seminars. They are also complemented by the incorporation of intercultural experts in the teaching staff.
The normative framework for education in Ecuador promoted institutional and process changes, the Constitution of Ecuador guarantees the right of individuals, peoples and nationalities to be educated in their own language and to enhance their culture. Education must face problems such as the lack of bilingual teachers and teaching materials for the 13 indigenous languages that exist in the country. In addition, the development of a national curriculum for basic education and high school, to which the cultural content of the different peoples and nationalities must be adapted and increased. The financing of education should take into account the particularities of the peoples and nationalities of Ecuador, without forgetting that Afro-Ecuadorians, montubios and mestizos are also part of this diversity. The didactic materials, as well as the infrastructure, should be designed to provide quality and adequate services to the realities where the educational processes are developed.
The challenge of revaluing and recovering identity is a remarkable aspect within intercultural bilingual education, since it implies a special effort on the part of each of the teachers who work in this type of education, which is often not so easy or spontaneous, which is why teachers must be able to be self-critical, have real and valid knowledge and, through the scientific method, be able to reconstruct new knowledge based on dialogue and recognition.
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- Muyolema, Armando. 2021 "Main challenges of Intercultural Higher Education in the context of the new Higher Education Law". Paper delivered at the university.
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