Ecuador: Study abroad programme will support 2,000 students

Ecuador’s pioneering study abroad programme to support 2,000 students this year; Haiti and Ecuador sign cooperation agreements; Assange’s asylum decision still in limbo.

Ecuador to support 2,000 students abroad

President Rafael Correa’s pioneering program that finances studies abroad for school-leavers and graduates will award 2,000 grants this coming academic year, the ministry of Science and Innovation has announced.

Ecuador’s deputy minister of science and innovation, Hector Rodríguez, said the programme’s main goal is ‘a radical transformation’ from a country whose exports are 77 percent raw materials, chiefly oil, to one that exports technology. ‘The best of the world’s science is abroad and we ought to be taking advantage of that,’ he said.

The programme, which will benefit as many as 2,000 Ecuadorians in 2012, has increased its reach over the last two years. Scholars who are granted the possibility to study abroad with state funds will have to work at least two years back in Ecuador in jobs created for them at government-funded academies.

The government will also pay as much as $250,000 to fund undergraduate education at the world’s 50 top universities for secondary school graduates who pass a qualifying exam. The top qualifiers will choose their field of study. Others will have their specializations assigned.

A third piece of the programme imports talent already abroad. To date it has recruited 100 mathematicians, physicists, chemists, biologists and other scientists, half of them Ecuadoran nationals and half foreigners. The government is reviewing an additional 1,500 applications from Spain, the United States and elsewhere.

Ecuador signs cooperation agreement with Haiti

President Rafael Correa signed two bilateral agreements with Haiti’s president Michel Martelly on 11 July on technical cooperation in reconstructing Haiti and political cooperation in the region.

In the first agreement, Ecuador will donate USD$15 million to support the reconstruction of Haiti, through programs of implementation, the construction of roads, waste processing, modular housing construction and rehabilitation of school infrastructure under the responsibility of the contingent of military engineers of the Ecuadorian Army.

The second agreement covers scientific cooperation in the fields of agriculture and security. The agreement provides for the development of technical cooperation programs and activities that include, among others, transformation of state structures and institutional strengthening, social welfare, elderly help and assistance to people with disabilities.

According to Correa, Ecuador has donated around USD$13,5 million for the infrastructural recovery of Haiti, after the devastating earthquake that dramatically affected the Caribbean nation in January 2010.

Assange’s asylum decision still in limbo

According to President Rafael Correa, his government would not yield to pressure from Britain, Sweden or the US in deciding whether to grant asylum to Julian Assange.

‘We will consult with everyone we need to, but we will make a sovereign decision on whether or not to grant asylum to the Australian, Julian Assange,’ he said in an interview with local television station RTS.

Since 19 June, the WikiLeaks founder has been living in Quito’s embassy in London, seeking political asylum to avoid being extradited to Sweden on sexual assault charges.

Mr Correa said he had ‘great respect’ for London, for Stockholm and for Washington but that Ecuador would not allow those governments to dictate its decision on whether or not to grant Mr Assange political asylum.

As he weighs his decision, Mr Correa said his government would ‘examine what the charges are in Sweden, how the judicial process is carried out, and if it is compatible with the humanist vision of justice that we have in Ecuador.’