Educational emergency in the Shuar territory

Text:  Tuija Veintie, Photo: Comunicación Confeniae

The Federation of the Shuar Nationality of Pastaza (FENASH-P) declared a state of emergency in education.

People gathered for the assembly in Tsuraku, Pastaza.

On 20 January 2021, the FENASH-P organized an emergency assembly to discuss and bring forward the untenable educational situation in the Shuar territory. The event gathered together people from 34 Shuar communities in Pastaza. 

The Shuar Federation together with the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) and Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazonian (CONFENIAE) state that intercultural bilingual schools in the Shuar territory in Pastaza lack adequate infrastructure, educational materials and even teachers, and the pandemic has seriously aggravated the educational inequality. The emergency assembly set an agenda for the necessary improvements in education in the Shuar territory:

  • Implementation of the Intercultural bilingual Education Model (MOSEIB).
  • Improvements in the school infrastructure, including classrooms that meet with quality standards and are culturally relevant, count with basic infrastructure (water, sanitation, electricity), and have access to communication technologies (telephone, computers, internet).
  • Access to higher education.
  • School feeding.
  • In-service training and employment rights for teachers.
  • Plan for returning to face-to-face classroom instruction.

FENASH-P and CONFENIAE have documented testimonies by teachers, parents and students, picturing schools with cramped classrooms and broken floors. Moreover, the students and teachers do not have access to computers, mobile phones or internet connections, which would be necessities for attending virtual education. Therefore, the prolonged interruption in face-to-face education has far-reaching effects on the educational opportunities of the young people in these communities.

As a first response to the shortcomings expressed in the declaration, the Secretary of the Intercultural Bilingual Education System (SESEIB) and the local educational authorities supplied some new furniture to three of the IBE schools in the Shuar territory.