» Inclusive programme wins 2014 UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize for Ecuador
12.08.2014 - UNESCO Office in Santiago

Inclusive programme wins 2014 UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize for Ecuador

Photo: Ministry of Education, Ecuador

The Ministry of Education of Ecuador has reached close to 325,000 beneficiaries in 2012 and 2013 with its basic literacy education for youth and adults project.


For 2014, the project has set itself the challenge of reaching out to 100,000 people. The initiative will be extended to 2015.

Five literacy programmes, including the Ecuadorian Education Ministry’s basic education for youth and adults project (EBJA) have been awarded the UNESCO 2014 International Literacy Prizes. The winners were announced by Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, on 11 August, 2014.

The winning Ecuadorian project has benefited close to 325,000 people in 2012 and 2013 and will be a continuing programme. The initiative not only teaches reading and writing, but also includes instruction on topics such as citizenship, health and nutrition.


The project offers education to indigenous communities in their mother tongue,  with an approach that is sensitive to their worldview. This has allowed more than 44,000 people to learn how to read and write in the Kichwa language, as well as 29,000 people who belong to the Montubia group, and 6,287 people from Afro-Ecuadorian groups received instruction with an approach centred on  rights and citizenship.

María Ester Lemus, former manager of the EBJA and currently an advisor for the Ministry of Education of Ecuador, reported the project´s success to UNESCO Santiago, explaining the direct and associated benefits that  it offers participants: “[the project] has contributed to reducing social, ethnic, and cultural inequalities; all participants have shown an increase in self-esteem and a better relationship with their families and communities. This wellbeing allows local production activities to be incorporated into mass initiatives and community enhancement, motivated by government institutions or local or private bodies, allowing them to boost their quality of life”.

A methodology for each educational need

According to Ecuador’s INEC census, in 2010 the country’s literacy rate stood at 93.20%, equivalent to 676,945 illiterate citizens. The diversity of beneficiaries’ educational needs led the EBJA project to adopt different teaching methodologies. To apply them, the implementation process included three working phases that ran from January 2012 to September 2013, and which were designed to bring about a progressive reduction in illiteracy.

In general, Ecuador’s EBJA project is oriented towards people aged over 15 who have never attended school, or who were enrolled at some stage but have since forgotten what they learned. The project also assists persons with different types of visual, auditory, or motor skill impairment.

Through to 2013, EBJA had national coverage in 7 zones, 24 provinces, 112 cantons and 341 parishes, in both urban and rural settings, where beneficiaries were offered three education options adapted to their needs:

  • “Yes I Can” Methodology, designed for Spanish speakers, is applied in the 13 provinces with the lowest literacy rates. This format began with an agreement signed between the Ecuadorian and Cuban Ministries of Education, with a methodology contextualised for the current situation in the country. It consists of a six-month programme of video classes.
  • Manuela Sáenz Methodology, also designed for the Spanish speaking community and  applied in 11 provinces all over the country. This system not only helps beneficiaries to develop reading, writing, and arithmetic skills; it also includes a rights-based approach that features learning centred on the communities’ surroundings and their social and cultural dynamics. The methodology catered to illiterate persons with special needs, incarcerated citizens, and those who live near to the country’s borders.
  • Dolores Cacuango Methodology, designed for mother-tongue literacy education for indigenous peoples and nationalities. This system was applied in 19 provinces with residents belonging to six indigenous nations.
    It features the Ñuka Yachana Kamu module, with content oriented towards strengthening identity for intercultural relationships. It draws together indigenous worldviews and experiences to create teaching-learning processes for young people and adults. Additionally, it helps beneficiaries to garner basic language skills in Spanish.

For 2014, the project has set itself the challenge of reaching out to 100,000 people. The initiative will continue to benefit more participants and it is to be extended to 2015. The approach and challenge make the project centre on providing services to widely dispersed communities of persons belonging to indigenous nations. The initiative sets out to assist priority action and vulnerable groups such as persons in conflict with the law, Ecuadorians and foreign nationals who live in border areas, and military personnel.

More information:

*Los Premios Internacionales de Alfabetización de la UNESCO

Honran la excelencia y la innovación en el ámbito de la alfabetización en el mundo entero. Al recompensar a instituciones, organizaciones e individuos por sus acciones, la UNESCO busca apoyar prácticas eficaces de alfabetización e incentivar el desarrollo de sociedades alfabetizadas y dinámicas.

Cada uno de los cinco programas ganadores del año 2014 recibirá 20.000 dólares, un diploma y una medalla en una ceremonia que tendrá lugar el 8 de septiembre, Día Internacional de la Alfabetización, en Dacca (Bangladesh).

En total, la UNESCO concede anualmente cinco premios de alfabetización: tres premios UNESCO-Confucio de Alfabetización, creados en 2005 con apoyo del Gobierno de la República Popular China, y dos premios UNESCO de Alfabetización Rey Sejong, creados en 1989 con apoyo del Gobierno de la República de Corea.

<- Back to: All news
Back to top