Nearly two thousands schools are now teaching the languages of Ecuador’s 14 distinct indigenous nationalities, with the number set to grow further in 2015.
At these "inter-cultural bilingual" schools both Spanish and the language pertinent to the specific region where the school is based are incorporated into the curriculum.
The inclusive curricula seeks to keep alive indigenous languages and cultures, which are at the risk of disappearing in certain parts of Ecuador.
Carmen Tene, a coordinator of inter-cultural bilingual education of the Ministry of Education said, "There are students who learn indigenous languages at home, as the first teachers of children are their parents,” and in such cases “they continue learning here in the institution. They hone their skill instead of losing it."
The schools have shown favorable results, with the 89% of indigenous students earning their high school degrees in 2006, the last year before the current government of Rafael Correa came to power, having risen to 96% in 2014.
As a continuation of this, indigenous students earning bachelors degrees have increased from being 24% in 2006 to 55% in 2014.
Gisela Nauqui an indigenous student at the Mushuc Pacari school in Quito who speaks Kichwa, said that she feels like the school is an inclusive environment.
"I like it, because other students learn what I already know. And they don't say that I am the only one that speaks Kichwa," said Nauqui.
Beginning with 95,00 students in 2006, the inter-cultural bilingual schools today count on some 149,000 students.
The success of these schools is thanks to an investment of US$217,000 and the training of some 8,700 indigenous and non-indigenous teachers in inter-cultural pedagogy.
Minister of Education Augusto Espinosa explained that,"We are strengthening inter-cultural bilingual education” so “these concepts of inter-cultural bilingual education, permeate traditional education."
With its expansion on a national level and the construction of 17 more of these schools this year, inter-cultural bilingual education is being recognized as crucial for Ecuador to be considered a truly plurinational state.