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Inclusive Education in Ecuador



Inclusive education represents a great challenge for third world countries, as it is in this regions where the most disadvantaged suffer the greater difficulties. Problems arise specially when families with low incomes cannot access to special education services as they are expensive. A serious problem arises when low wage families need to care for family members with serious disadvantages, as they need to leave aside income from jobs. For this purpose, since 2008 a bonus for poor families is given to help support people with 80% disability whether he or she is blind, deaf, mentally retarded or possesses another serious disadvantage.

Children with disadvantages are considered to be one of the most vulnerable groups in society. According to OMS, 80% of children in scholar age who have sight problems or are blind live in developing countries. This high percentage represent an enormous challenge for governments, and special programs and policies need to be implemented and be operative as it is the constitutional right of all the children to have better quality of lives. It is important to mention that only 10% of these children are currently receiving education.


Information regarding private initiatives and programs is very limited through the internet, but in contrast to public information on the subject, it can be said that private special education schools are expensive and inaccessible for a great proportion of families with low wages. In the city of Guayaquil, there are few private schools that allow children with autism to take regular courses. In some

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cases, only up to two autistic children are placed per class, receiving the same treatment and studies as regular students.

The ministry of education and culture, through its national division of special education has implemented and proposes a series of programs to improve quality in special education at a national level. These programs will be addressed briefly in the next paragraphs.

General Overview.-

There are several actions that have taken place in Ecuador since the year 1940 but t was only after 1980 that special education has been included as a priority in the national plan for education. Practices for improving quality in special education are nowadays being implemented in almost 159 schools nationwide.

In the year 1983, the national department of special education was created, and is now in charge of planning, monitoring and evaluating programs, plans and actions for special education in a national level. During the years of 1990 to 1997, ministerial accords regarding special education were executed an implemented with very positive results allowing more children with special needs to access education.

In the year 2000, during the world conference in “Dakar”, Ecuador made a

commitment to offer education for all. Due to other political priorities and instability, very few policies where adopted and implemented during 200 to


In the year 2006, 8 national educational policies where accepted by “national consultancy”. These policies are now part of the ten-year educational plan (2006-20015) and they imply amongst its actions special education as fundamental asset for developing this plan.

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Since 2006 to the present time it can be said that special education has been given a strong impulse, being treated within an international context to improve its overall quality.


Special education in Ecuador has been reoriented to an international context and pretends to manage services and improve the quality of education that is being given. The intention of Ecuadorian actions is to develop to a pedagogic educational model for improving the potential of students with special education needs and allowing them to have equal opportunities. Opportunities depend on the readiness of individuals.

The importance of proposals and actions is that activities need to be immersed in the educational system reforms, only this way the can be sustainable.

In the year 2005, a study form the national division of special education revealed that:

13,2% (1'600.000) of people have some sort of disability, from which 76,2% is not attending any education institute; from those who assist 58,8% attend regular education.

6,1% are boys and girls with special education needs, who will not receive any support in regular education.

37,9% of the population with disabilities, have not finished any level of instruction, from this population 56,8% is illiterate.

To the time of the research in 2005, 4% of pupils in school age with special education needs, have access to services of special education.

From the pupils of 5 to 18 years, it is calculated that 2,2% have gifted characteristics.

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The national division for special education is part of the division of regular and special education, dependent on the ministry of education. The NDES has 21 provincial departments, 15 CEDOPʼs and 12 multi-professional teams.

Some of its actions consist on support programs in all provinces, Integrative programs in all provinces and159 institutions in special education, which receive constant support and technical assistance for teachers and administrative personnel.

There are also 318 school classes of psycho pedagogic support and 120 school classes of interaction all coordinated by the NDES. Inter-institutional programs coordination is held by the municipalities, ministries of social welfare, CONAIDS, the national federation of people with disabilities, OGʼs. In an international level, OEA, UNESCO, CBM, Hilton Perkins and some other NGOʼs hold program coordination.

The areas of attention for special education are visual disabilities, intellectual disabilities, hearing disabilities, physical disabilities, blind-deaf disability, learning problems and gifted children.

Special education is available at all levels of education from preprimary, primary, secondary, technical occupation and professional education. The national technical team and the provincial chiefs for special education plus all the teachers for direct work with people account for 1625 professionals, distributed nationwide. On a yearly basis a range of 31000 students are covered with special education services, whether they are pupils, young adults or adults with disabilities.

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There are several programs taking place at a national level, some of them include psycho pedagogic support, educative integration, educative inclusion, and student participation. There is also a program called extension to the community oriented to educate people about people with disabilities and helping them understand how this disability as a opportunity. The labor code guarantees also employment for people with disabilities, as it states that from every 30 employees, one with disabilities must be hired.

Other programs held in a yearly basis include education for parents and all family members.

Education for all children with visual disability, EFA_VI is a campaign and a a global program from the international council of education of persons with visual disabilities (ICEVI) coordinated with the world union of blind persons and supported by UNESCO and UNICEF. This campaign pretends to support with funds the education of children with visual problems and also intends to achieve gender equality for people with visual disabilities are women are mostly discriminated when being blind.


Some of the challenges for special education in Ecuador is located in rural areas where there is almost no intervention from the government. NGOs and international aid agencies roughly reach 1000 /year pupils in rural areas, which is not a significant number. Policies need to be implemented to expand to the poorest sectors of the countries.

Another challenge is the detection of autism in special education and developing statistics for its evaluation. A Japanese expert Dr. Hisao Fujinuma

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is performing evaluation and has detected to date at least 186 cases, previously

not detected in special education institutes. He has assessed 45 institutions.

On these poor regions, many families consider disabilities as a “curse”. Cases

have been shown on the media where adults have been kept in houses like

animals, with no education and living under the worst circumstances. It is

important to extend education also to the illiterate families, not only to teach

them how to write, but also, how to handle the needs for a disabled family









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Organizational chart of the national division for special education.