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Ecuador - Education and Schools
Primary school education has been compulsory since 1945 and during the 1960s the number of children attending primary school doubled. This was due to the development of the education system in rural areas, which lacked a standard education and in some areas, there were no buildings that could be used as a school. This decade saw a larger number of children attending secondary school, as well as a huge leap in university enrolments.
However, there are still large numbers of children who do not remain in school beyond the age of 15, particularly in rural areas where the people are poor and it is more important to find work to help to support the family. There are several government initiatives in place to improve education and training in rural areas and to encourage children there to learn a trade. However, the levels of literacy have improved dramatically over recent years.
Children begin school at the age of 6 and finish primary school at the age of 12. Secondary education comes in 2 phases, each lasting 3 years. If students complete the basic first phase they can go on to the second phase and possibly university education. If students wish to study at university then a degree course lasts between 4 and 7 years, depending upon the subject chosen. Education is compulsory until at least the age of 14.
The school year differs, depending upon which area you are in. Some run from October to July, while others from April to December. This takes into account the times of year when extreme weather is expected. All schools teach in Spanish, which can be a problem in some rural areas where the native children speak only their Indian language.
There are a number of schools which are run by churches and these will have religion as a compulsory subject. Other subjects which are compulsory include maths, sciences, Spanish and occasionally a school may offer another language. There are an increasing number of private schools available and the capital city does have international schools, but places are limited and there are fees to pay. Many expats who go to Ecuador for work choose to send their children to school abroad.
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