Education in Galapagos


Education in Galapagos

Galapagos is still the best preserved tropical archipelago in the world, but its rich biodiversity is at risk if current social and economic trends and practices continue. Long-term protection of the islands will be possible only when local residents become champions for conservation and have the knowledge, skills, and desire to pursue lifestyles and livelihoods that are consistent with protecting the fragile Galapagos environment. Education is an essential avenue towards this end. A progressive educational philosophy, an improved curriculum, well-trained teachers, innovative learning opportunities, and greater community-wide involvement have the potential to ensure that Galapagos youths become engaged in the improved stewardship of the environment.

 The Galapagos education system currently serves approximately 7,500 primary and secondary students in 33 public and private schools on the islands of Santa Cruz (15 schools), San Cristóbal (11), Isabela (6), and Floreana (1). Historically, Galapagos schools have faced chronic challenges as a result of many factors ranging from poorly trained teachers, teacher-centered instruction that relies heavily on rote memorization, and a curriculum which until recently has failed to develop competencies demanded in the local work place and for university study. Teachers have lacked pedagogical training and classroom management skills. Another central issue of concern, particularly relating to environmental conservation, is that the education system has made little use of the local place, missing a tremendous opportunity to integrate Galapagos’ physical surroundings as a natural laboratory to teach and apply natural and social sciences and for service-based learning.

 Fortunately, education in Galapagos and the rest of Ecuador is changing in positive ways. Since 2006, the Ministry of Education has made important headway through the development of a new, innovative national curriculum (with adaptations for Galapagos), and investment in strengthening the capacity of teachers through training and mentoring. These investments are a model for other countries to emulate. However, fully implementing reform on a national level is a daunting task that will stretch the Ministry’s human and financial resources to their limits. The situation for Galapagos is complicated further by logistical complications and added expenses associated with implementing reform in a remote archipelago.

 Given these realities, the Scalesia Foundation believes that a public-private partnership is the most effective strategy for strengthening education in the Islands. Such a partnership would combine the mandate, vision and resources of the Ministry of Education with the experience, networks, resources and local presence of Scalesia Foundation in order to strengthen local schools throughout the Islands.