RISE Working Paper 18/021 - The Politics of Transforming Education in Ecuador: Confrontation and Continuity, 2006-17

Recent governments in Ecuador (2007-17) have achieved impressive improvements in education quantity and quality. Enrollments at all levels increased significantly, and Ecuador’s learning gains on a regional test from 2006-2013 were among the largest in the region. A quadrupling of public spending on basic education (to five percent of GDP) supported the schooling expansion as well as a doubling of teacher salaries. But also important were a new focus on student learning results and key reforms of teacher policy implemented over strong union opposition: higher standards for new recruitment, regular evaluation of teacher performance with promotion based on performance (and dismissal after multiple poor evaluations). Among the political advantages favoring government reformers were: strong public support, sustained presidential engagement, the commodity boom of the 2000s, continuity in the government reform team, and a forceful communications strategy. Ecuador’s experience offers lessons for other countries seeking to improve education by focusing on student learning and the quality of teaching.


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