Ecuador: Correa calls for continental unity at Unasur summit

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Correa calls for continental unity at Unasur summit; Ecuadorian primary education improving says Unesco study; President and Quito’s Mayor clash on metro funding

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Correa calls for continental unity at Unasur summit

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa culminated the summit of the Union of South American Nations (Unión de Naciones Suramericanas- Unasur), which took place 5th December to inaugurate the organisation’s new headquarters in Quito, by giving a speech reminding South Americans of the historic and contemporary unity between their countries.

He called for integration, whilst also praising the political models that have come forth through the work of current regional leaders.

He spoke of Brazilian President Dilma Roussef, an ex-guerrilla fighter who had been imprisoned and tortured, before going on to mention Chilean leader Michelle Bachelet, the daughter of a general assassinated by the Pinochet regime.

He spoke of Uruguayan President José Mujica, who still carries six bullets in his body following his time as a guerrilla fighter and who spent more than 14 years in jail. Bolivian President Evo Morales was praised as an Aymara descendent who had been marginalised and persecuted in his own country, and now leads its political destiny.

He went on to speak of Nicolás Maduro, a former bus driver who now in the driving seat of Venezuela.

He reminded leaders of the importance of unity between their nations, quoting the words of Simón Bolívar, one of the great figures of the continent’s independence wars, “only unity will make the liberated region great”.

He stated that the Unasur nations had the duty to consolidate the integration of South America- “Perhaps the Europeans will have to explain to their children why they came together, however, we will have to explain to them why we took such a long time to do it”.

Ecuadorian primary education improving says Unesco study

Primary education in Ecuador has made a leap forward according to the results of the Third Regional Comparative and Explanatory Study (Tercer estudio regional comparativo y aplicativo- Terce), which were published on 4th December.

The study, which was carried out by Unesco’s Latin-American Laboratory of Evaluation of the Quality of Education (Llece), analysed the academic performance of primary school pupils in 15 countries across Latin America and the Caribbean.

Ecuador achieved results that fall within the average range for the region- displaying vast improvement over performance in a similar study carried out in 2006, in which the country received the worst results of all participant nations.

A total of 9,156 Ecuadorian pupils, in either their fourth or seventh year of education, took a test in order to measure their educational achievements, and to identify factors that influence in their learning experience.

Ecuadorian pupils achieved al mark of over 500, the average across all participant countries, in a variety of subjects. Seventh years registered 513 in mathematics, a large increase over the 2006 score of 460. Likewise, fourth years jumped from 452 to 508 in their performance in languages.

Education Minister, Augusto Espinosa, stated that these improvements were due to public policy steps taken during his term in office. He said that there had been improvements in the management of the education system, an increase in funding (from US$1,000 million in 2006 to a current figure of US$3,300 million), and a positive change in teachers’ salaries and training.

Saadia Sánchez, Unesco representative in the region, said that, “this isn’t a league table of the different countries, nor is it a competition that picks out winners and losers in the region, rather it is a process of collaborative evaluation”.

President and Quito’s Mayor clash on metro funding

Quito’s metro was the protagonist in talks between President Rafael Correa and the Mayor of Quito Mauricio Rodas which took place as part of the celebrations to mark the 480th anniversary of the city’s foundation.

Both the municipal and the national representative said that they and their respective institutions were heavily in favour of the construction of a metro in the nation’s capital. However, they were in disagreement in regards to the best method to finance the project.

Correa stated that there would be a shortfall of between US$480 million to US$852 million in the project’s budget, and that he expected the municipal authorities to look for ways to gain funding to resolve this.

The President emphasised that the construction of the metro is a municipal project, and as such, the national government would not provide additional funding, as had previously been requested by Quito’s City Hall.

Rodas claimed that the project would be reworked as many times as necessary in order to make it viable. He cited the great importance of providing improved services for the 70% of the city’s population that uses public transport.