Girls' Education in Ecuador
Several aid organizations are working to improve the access that girls have to educational opportunities in Ecuador. According to UNICEF, girls’ education in Ecuador is affected by social factors, and providing girls with access to education that is equal to boys has been an issue for some time.

Statistics Illustrate the Gaps in Girls’ Education in Ecuador

According to UNICEF, approximately 97.4 percent of children in Ecuador attended school in 2013. However, there are still improvements to be made. The organization noted that there still are more than 230,000 children between the ages of five and 17 that are not receiving any kind of education

Social factors make it difficult for some children, especially girls and women, to gain equal access to education. When girls are given away to men by their families as part of an agreement, it is difficult for women to access the educational opportunities that they otherwise would, as their role becomes that of wife and mother.

On this subject, UNICEF has noted, “The Social Observatory of Ecuador has found that for previous years 718 girls do not attend school and are working without remuneration. This condition is possible when the family gives the girl as part of an agreement to ensure that they have food, lodging or for some kind of transaction.”

Organizations Making a Difference

Plan International Ecuador is working to support women as they achieve their professional and educational goals and the issues surrounding girls’ education in Ecuador. Plan International Ecuador started a letter campaign to raise awareness of the issues girls face and the problems that unequal access to education cause for them. More than 1,300 girls wrote letters to explain their struggles, and made paintings to raise awareness about the change needs to take place in the social and educational systems there. Awareness of the issue is an important factor in improving girls’ education in Ecuador.

Some organizations, such as the Manna Project, have taken a more holistic approach to the issue, providing a wide range of services to increase opportunities for women and girls. These include English lessons for both children and adults, job skills training and professional development, among others.

The European Commission has taken the approach of improving the system for both boys and girls. Improving education as a whole and not focusing only on girls’ access to education will broaden the educational opportunities that girls will have available to them. The European Commission has defined its goal as reducing child labor in Ecuador and, instead, giving these children a chance to participate in school. One objective listed on the European Commission’s website is “to prevent 5,000 children from engaging in labor activities and take 2,800 children out of the work environment.”

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2015 99.3 percent of children in Ecuador were attending school, a sign of progress. However, aid organizations are still looking for ways to improve the child labor statistics. Although the percentage may appear small, in 2015 approximately 75,689 children were working.

The U.S.-based Ecuador Children’s Hope Organization has been raising money to improve the education system in Ecuador overall as well. The aid organization raises money to support other organizations and educational systems in Ecuador, taking the approach of improving the system as a whole as other organizations specifically focus on the social factors that influence equal opportunity in Ecuador. With the work of organizations like this, girls’ education in Ecuador has seen great improvements and continues to progress.

– Gabriella Evans
Photo: Flickr