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Ecuador seeks ‘binational school’ with Korea

Ecuador is seeking to expand its education partnership with South Korea to help translate educational improvements into national growth, the country’s Education Minster said.

Augusto Espinosa told The Korea Herald that his country was seeking to continue building partnerships with Korean universities and local companies to boost education in the country. 

Augusto Espinosa
Augusto Espinosa

One of the projects they are working on is the idea of a publicly funded “binational school” between Ecuador and Korea. The concept, already being conducted by Ecuador with Germany and Japan separately, is to share culture and language and form a long-term relationship between the countries.

“In the past we had relationships with mostly the U.S. But we wish to diversify international relationships. We can have Korean teachers communicate Korean culture and language,” he said.

The partnership, he said, will be based on more than just financial support.

“It is really for knowledge transfer. We can learn the know-how of the Korean strategy, and establish certain joint research projects with Korean universities.”

The partnership between the two countries is already set in motion. In 2013, the minister visited Korea to discuss cooperation in building the Yachay research park project in the Amazon region, dubbed “city of knowledge” which is both a science and technology cluster and an education complex. Institutions like the government-planned Yachay Tech University have already opened in 2014.

Incheon Free Economic Zone and institutions like Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology are already working with Ecuador on the project.

Espinosa said he was also open to ideas of foreign universities opening campuses in Ecuador. But hosting foreign schools is not the main idea, he stressed.

“The main objective is that each country can learn each other’s culture. The idea of the binational school is not to adopt Korea’s education system, but to learn from the culture and exchange cultures,” he said.

“Certainly I believe we can learn from the rapid economic growth from Korea that occurred in less than 50 years. The correlation between growth and the education system is valuable,” he said.

Improving the quality of education is a key issue, Espinosa said. In the past five years, Ecuador has come from having one of the worst-evaluated education systems in Latin America to the middle of the pack.

Determined to go further, Ecuador is currently pushing a strategy mandating teachers to obtain master’s degrees, while carrying out school reform.

The country was able to cut 22,000 schools in 2006 to 14,500 in 2015. The goal is to reduce that number to 8,000 by 2017, and finally to 5,500.

By Yoon Min-sik (minsikyoon@heraldcorp.com)
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