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  • The government of President Rafael Correa invested millions in ensuring access to free and high quality education in Ecuador.

    The government of President Rafael Correa invested millions in ensuring access to free and high quality education in Ecuador. | Photo: Ministry of Education

Experts agree that under the government of President Rafael Correa, public education improved dramatically.

During the past 10 years in Ecuador, the levels of access to education and the quality of schooling have soared even higher than those in leading European countries such as Finland, according to analysts.

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Researchers from the National Education University, Ricardo Restrepo and Efstathios Stefos, released findings Wednesday that access to education has increased by 30 percent at the high school level and 59 percent in higher education institutions in the country since 2006.

Restrepo and Stefos presented in Quito their book titled "Atlas of the Right to Education in the Years of the Citizen's Revolution," referring to the years of the government of President Rafael Correa.

"The political will in investment is an element that allowed the transformation of education to develop in Ecuador between 2006 and 2016," said Restrepo.

Regarding enrollment, the study details a growth of up to 97.54 percent, compared to figures such as 96.78 percent in Finland, considered the most successful model in education worldwide.

Restrepo said the results show the effectiveness of a concerted state policy to address the "social debt" the government owed to society in making the right to education a reality in the country as an international right guaranteed for all citizens.

"If we have rights declared in any instrument it is dead paper if there are no public policies that have a strategy in a democratic system," said Restrepo.

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In competitiveness, figures measured from 2006 to 2016 show Ecuador has climbed in ranking compared to countries including Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Finland, Peru, Spain and the U.S.

"Ecuador rises 27 places in this ranking when the rest of countries fall," said Restrepo. "This means that Ecuador is the country that is improving the most and is rapidly transforming."

According to co-author Stefos, investment in education increased over the past years and played a central role in the success of increasing quality and access to education.

"In the last school year, children received 3 million free books, almost 2 million breakfasts, 1.5 million uniforms. When we talk about millions of students, we talk about billions of dollars invested, it's an incredible investment," said Stefos.

The book uses figures by the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses, regional comparative studies from Unesco, and data from the Global Competitiveness Report published by the World Economic Forum.

The findings of the study help lay bare what is at stake in Ecuador's upcoming presidential run-off between governing party candidate Lenin Moreno and former banker Guillermo Lasso.

Lasso has proposed an education voucher system and greater independence for educational institutions, which his campaign claims will give parents a greater ability to choose between sending their children to public or private schools. Critics argue that Lasso's voucher proposal seeks to privatize education and will result in tiered access to quality schooling.

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