Text: Nathaly Pinto
The year started with immense worries regarding the current situation of students in the amazon region. Marlon Vargas, president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazonian (CONFENIAE) expressed:
The organization is deeply concerned about the situation of education of the peoples and nationalities of Ecuador, as well as the peasant and proletarian sectors of the country for whom the right to education has become a privilege by not being able to access.
In a public declaration, shared on January 8, 2021 CONFENIAE’s anticipating the International Day of Education (an annual international observance day dedicated to education), Vargas highlighted how by prioritizing virtual education in the context of COVID–19, the Ministry of Education excluded indigenous girls, boys and teenagers from education, by ignoring the amazonic geographical contexts, lack of proper infrastructure and social inequities in the region.
The declaration emphasized how some communities and families have coped with network connectivity costs through self-management, also remembering that not all families and communities have the means necessary to oblige to such imposed technological conditions.
The leader continued to support local actions that advocate for better educational conditions in their territories. Actions like Kichwa Pakayaku People, and the declaration of state of emergency in education, by Shuar Nationality of Pastaza (FENASH-P), and encouraged grassroots organizations to intensify their discussions on this subject through local assemblies. Finally, Vargas urged governmental institutions to promptly deal with the current educational situation according to collective rights, and national and international regulations related to educational rights. Supporting this statement, Vargas noted:
Education is a priority area for public policies and governmental spending as an essential condition for good living, however the reality in our territories does not account for mechanisms that are aimed at guaranteeing this right.