Exclusive distances: intercultural bilingual education during the COVID-19 pandemic in Ecuadorian Amazonia

Text by Johanna Hohenthal, Katy Machoa and Tuija Veintie

[Haz clic aquí para version en español]

In March 2020, due to the health crisis caused by COVID-19, classes were suspended in all educational units in Ecuador. In general, a prolonged suspension of classes has long-term consequences, particularly for marginalized and low-income groups (Giannini 2020). Therefore, we considered important to monitor the situation in intercultural bilingual schools during the pandemic. Due to the conditions of physical distancing, the research team has been unable to visit schools in the Amazonian region. Instead, we conducted telephone interviews with the principals of the educational units between 11 May and 3 June. We managed to contact 9 of the 14 schools in the Pastaza province that we had visited earlier during the research project. These schools represent approximately half of the intercultural bilingual schools that have a high school level program in Pastaza (AMIE, school year 2018-2019).

Figure 1. Proportion of students attending virtual education in the intercultural bilingual schools in Pastaza according to the estimation of the school principals

The interviews revealed several difficulties in implementing intercultural bilingual education in the Amazonian region during the health emergency. Most school principals and teachers try to work from home but many of them lack the computer and internet connection that are necessary for teleworking and organizing virtual teaching. Similarly, most students do not have the possibility to attend virtual education (Figure 1). However, the third year high school students have somewhat better access to the internet than the other students. One of the principals estimates that in their educational unit up to 70% of the third year high school students participate in virtual education to a certain degree. This is a positive thing, because it is important for the third year students to finish their studies to proceed to higher education or working life. However, for the vast majority of high school students the only option to continue their studies is to use the printed learning guides. Continue reading “Exclusive distances: intercultural bilingual education during the COVID-19 pandemic in Ecuadorian Amazonia”

Distancias excluyentes: educación intercultural bilingüe durante la pandemia COVID-19 en la Amazonía ecuatoriana

Redacción: Johanna Hohenthal, Katy Machoa y Tuija Veintie

[Click here for English version]

En marzo 2020, ante la crisis sanitaria por COVID-19, se suspendieron las clases en todos los establecimientos educativos en el Ecuador. En general, una prolongada suspensión de clases tiene consecuencias de largo plazo en particular para las personas marginalizadas y con bajos recursos económicos (Giannini 2020). Por lo tanto, consideramos importante monitorear la situación de la educación en Unidades Educativas Interculturales Bilingües (UEIB) en el contexto de la pandemia. Debido a la crisis sanitaria, el equipo de investigación no ha podido visitar las UEIB en la región amazónica, pero realizamos entrevistas telefónicas a los rectores y rectoras de las unidades educativas entre 11 de mayo y 3 de junio. Logramos contactar a 9 de las 14 UEIB en la provincia de Pastaza que habíamos visitado antes durante el proyecto de investigación. Estas unidades representan aproximadamente la mitad de las UEIB que cuentan con programa de estudios en nivel de bachillerato en Pastaza (AMIE, año lectivo 2018-2019).

Figura 1. Proporción de estudiantes asistiendo a la educación virtual en las UEIB según la estimación de los rectores

Las entrevistas revelaron varias dificultades para implementar educación intercultural bilingüe en la región amazónica durante la emergencia sanitaria. La mayoría de los rectores y docentes de los UEIB tratan de trabajar en la modalidad de teletrabajo desde la casa. No obstante, un gran número de docentes no cuentan con condiciones necesarias para realizar teletrabajo o facilitar educación virtual desde su hogar por falta de computadoras y conexión a internet. De igual manera, la mayoría de estudiantes no tiene posibilidad de asistir a la educación virtual (figura 1). Sin embargo, entre los estudiantes del 3º de bachillerato hay más conectividad, y uno de los rectores estima que en su unidad educativa hasta 70% de los estudiantes del 3º bachillerato acceden educación virtual en cierto grado. Esto es algo positivo, porque es importante que los estudiantes de tercer año terminen sus estudios para continuar con la educación superior o la vida laboral. No obstante, para la gran mayoría de los estudiantes de bachillerato su única opción de continuar con los estudios son las guías de aprendizaje en ausencia de la posibilidad de educación virtual. Continue reading “Distancias excluyentes: educación intercultural bilingüe durante la pandemia COVID-19 en la Amazonía ecuatoriana”

Overview of the year 2019 and glimpse to the upcoming project activities

During the year 2019, fieldwork and data collection were the main activities of the project. The project team met during three periods of fieldwork in Ecuador. In January, Paola Minoia and Andrés Tapia interviewed and discussed with key actors, including professionals and experts in education, ancestral knowledges, decoloniality and interculturality, as well as with Indigenous leaders and representatives of NGOs, in Quito and Pastaza. In March-June and September-October, Tuija Veintie, Johanna Hohenthal, Andrés Tapia, Katy Machoa, Tito Madrid and students of the UEA visited the IBE upper secondary schools in Pastaza and interviewed directors, teachers, students and parents. Three schools were selected for more comprehensive field study: UEIB “Camilo Huatatoca” in Santa Clara, UEIB “Sarayaku” and UEIB “Kumay”. In these schools, we conducted a higher number of in-depth interviews with teachers and students, questionnaire surveys, classroom observation, as well as participatory mapping and photography with the students.

Upper secondary school students produced over 20 maps and hundreds of photographs illustrating their school journeys and culturally meaningful places in the Indigenous communities. Sometimes the drawing was a bit challenging. For example, during the thunderstorm in Kumay water dripped to the tables from the roof and there was very little light in the classroom even though it was morning (photo on the right). (Photos: Johanna Hohenthal 2019)

Continue reading “Overview of the year 2019 and glimpse to the upcoming project activities”

Call for Papers: Education and social justice in the pluriverse

We cordially invite contributions to our panel at  EADI ISS Conference 2020: Solidarity, Peace and Social Justice held in the Hague, Netherlands, 29 June – 2 July 2020.

Panel abstract:

The comprehensive development project manifested in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) proposes through the SDG4 an overall engagement on “quality education for all”. It endeavors to support social justice by promoting equal access to education for the most deprived groups. However, the SDG4 does not acknowledge the existing epistemic diversity around the world and the need to support alternative ways to learn and produce knowledge. Neither does it contain any reference to the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples of 2007. Thus, Indigenous perspectives, knowledges and alternative forms of education remain marginalized. To promote global social and epistemic justice, education should include equal representation of diverse epistemologies, knowledges and educational practices. Without comprehensive understanding of epistemic pluralism, interculturality and hegemonies of power within the society, well-meaning educational programs may end up reproducing models of neoliberal multiculturalism and ideas of primitive otherness, and fail to promote equal relations among existing cultures. Instead, a radical project on intercultural education should reflect the principles of relationality between lands, beings and knowledges (Walsh 2018) linked to the distinctive territorial and ecological realities and sustaining transformation projects to reverse structural injustices.

This session is organised by members of EADI Working Group on “Post- and Decolonial Perspectives on Development and welcomes papers that discuss pluriversal educational alternatives in diverse contexts. We particularly welcome contributions from young scholars and participants from the Global South and/or with Indigenous background. Abstracts of 500-600 words including key literature, theoretical and methodological approaches and keywords should be submitted by 15 December. Authors of accepted abstracts should send draft papers by March 2020. Full papers are circulated within the presenters and organizers before the conference. After the conference, the organizers invite the authors to submit their revised manuscript for possible publication in an upcoming special issue in an international journal.

Looking forward to receiving your abstracts! Please follow the instructions here.

Organizers: Paola Minoia, Johanna Hohenthal and Tuija Veintie, Development Studies, University of Helsinki

Community resistance against school closure in the Shuar territory

Text and photos: Johanna Hohenthal

The government of Rafael Correa (2007-2017) pushed modernization of the education system in Ecuador through the establishment of large millennium schools at the expense of small rural schools [1, 2]. In the province of Pastaza, the government did not close upper secondary schools, but the reform hit hardest to the primary school students whose school journeys became longer due to closing down of community schools. In March, the research team visited the Shuar territory where three primary schools had been closed and several others had barely avoided the closure thanks to community resistance.

Continue reading “Community resistance against school closure in the Shuar territory”

Into the Forest

Text and photos by Riikka Kaukonen

We had already been conducting fieldwork for a bit over one month in the city of Puyo and the communities surrounding it, as we stood in front of a small monoplane on the late morning of 22nd of October. The past months we had concentrated on the experiences of indigenous students of different levels of higher education:

What were the main obstacles they had faced during their education history?

How they saw the relationship between occidental epistemology present in the educative system, and the cosmovision and worldviews of their respective backgrounds?

How could the intercultural and bilingual education programs strengthen the identity and self image of the indigenous nationalities of Pastaza, while engaging with the rich multiplicity and differences that exists between and inside these groups?

Continue reading “Into the Forest”

Greetings from the autumn conferences in the North: key messages on diversifying and decolonizing academic research

Text by Johanna Hohenthal

This autumn the project members participated in several conferences and seminars in the Nordic countries that all somehow addressed the themes of decoloniality, interculturality and diversity in academic research. First, on 15-18 August, the 4th Annual Conference of the World-Ecology Research Network (WERN) was held in Helsinki, Finland. The WERN has an important decolonial commitment focusing on the “critique of Nature/Society dualism as a cosmology and world-historical practice of domination”. In this year’s conference, the keynotes, panels and working groups discussed on topical issues related to expropriation, capitalocene, extractivism, and power relations in academic research. The second event was a two-day seminar “Doing diversity/interculturality/decoloniality in development research” organized by the Finnish development research doctoral network (UniPID DocNet) in Tvärminne, Finland, 27-28 September. The presentations and discussions in the seminar largely centered around the questions on how to decolonize and diversify thinking and practices in the academic teaching and research work. In the following week, 5-6 October, the reflection on these themes continued in the first workshop of the research network Decolonial critique, knowledge production and social change in the Nordic countries (DENOR) in Gothenburg, Sweden. As stated by the leader of the network, Adrián Groglopo, in his welcoming words, the decolonial initiative is especially important in the Nordic context, because the Nordic “race” has for long enjoyed its privileged position on the expense of other nations and even been put on the pedestal as a model that the others should follow. Finally, the 10th conference of the Nordic Latin American Research Network (NOLAN) was organized in Oslo, Norway, 25-26 October. The conference addressed important issues related to human and environmental rights and the state of democracy that have implications especially for the lives of indigenous and other minority groups in Latin America. The conference also had a number of interesting working group sessions on indigenous identity, environmental governance and education.

In this writing, I will briefly return to the key messages from the above meetings that are significant also for our project. See also the related forthcoming text written by Paola Minoia in Convivial Thinking. Continue reading “Greetings from the autumn conferences in the North: key messages on diversifying and decolonizing academic research”

Asamblea educativa y pedagogía de la Nacionalidad Kichwa de Pastaza, Ecuador, como aporte a la construcción de la Educación Intercultural Bilingüe en la Amazonía

Texto: Andrés Tapia

En la comuna ancestral Kichwa de Canelos, ubicada en el interior de la provincia de Pastaza, se llevó a cabo la Asamblea educativa y pedagógica de la Nacionalidad Kichwa de Pastaza, el 25-26 de septiembre, una actividad convocada por el Consejo de la Nacionalidad Kichwa de Pastaza (Pastaza Kikin Kichwa Runakuna PAKIRU) en seguimiento de las resoluciones tomadas por las bases de las comunidades, pueblos y asociaciones Kichwas de Pastaza en su congreso ordinario realizado el pasado mes de agosto.

Foto: Andrés Tapia

Continue reading “Asamblea educativa y pedagogía de la Nacionalidad Kichwa de Pastaza, Ecuador, como aporte a la construcción de la Educación Intercultural Bilingüe en la Amazonía”

Strengthening the knowledge and ancestral wisdom of the peoples from the north and south

Text and photos by: Andrés Tapia

As part of an international advocacy campaign of the indigenous peoples and local communities of North, Central and South America and Southeast Asia, a meeting was organized between the peoples from the south and north for the strengthening of ancestral knowledge, strategies and joint actions for the defense of the territories. The meeting was held in the ancestral Yurok territory, located in the north of California, the United States, in 2-7 September.

Continue reading “Strengthening the knowledge and ancestral wisdom of the peoples from the north and south”

Andrés Tapia se une al equipo de investigadores

(English version below)

En septiembre, nos complace dar la bienvenida a nuestro equipo de investigación a un nuevo investigador, Andrés Tapia. Andrés es licenciado en Ciencias Biológicas de la Universidad Central del Ecuador con una Maestría en Biodiversidad de Bosques Tropicales y su Conservación en la Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo (UIMP) de España. Tiene también una tecnología en Medios de Comunicación y Economía en el Instituto Popular Superior de Härnösand en Suecia. Actualmente es Dirigente de Comunicación, Promoción y Fortalecimiento Organizativo de la Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas de la Amazonía Ecuatoriana (CONFENIAE), periodo 2016-2020, donde ha sido también parte del equipo técnico en temas de ambiente, territorio y biodiversidad desde el 2010. Ha sido parte del equipo técnico de la Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas del Ecuador (CONAIE) desde hace varios años. Ha liderado varias campañas en defensa de los derechos de los pueblos indígenas y es fundador y líder de la red de comunicadores comunitarios “Lanceros Digitales”. Representante de base de la comunidad Unión Base, Comuna San Jacinto del Pindo de la Nacionalidad Kichwa de Pastaza.

En este proyecto, Andrés se enfocará en estudiar cómo el concepto de “territorio” podría contribuir a las políticas educativas públicas que reconocen el pluralismo ecocultural para la calidad del sistema educativo ecuatoriano.

Continue reading “Andrés Tapia se une al equipo de investigadores”