Ecuador officially has a compulsory and free six-year elementary school for ages 6-14. In practice, schooling becomes very sporadic for many children. Some quit already after a year to help with the family’s livelihood, and only a minor part of the school attend the school. Many students also fail in the rigid exam system. School conditions are significantly worse in rural areas than in cities.
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Of the adult population, one in ten residents is illiterate. There is some adult education, and conscripts are taught in school subjects if necessary. The Catholic Church runs a number of schools and colleges. This has contributed to the training of more doctors and lawyers than technicians at university level. There are six autonomous public universities and a dozen technical colleges in the country. Most significant are the universities of Quito and Guayaquil. There are also a number of private universities, including some Catholic.
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Colombia in March 2008 attacked Ecuador militarily. It was a needle-stick operation in Ecuador to destroy a partisan camp that had been identified with US assistance. The attack led Ecuador to mobilize and sever diplomatic relations with Colombia. Venezuela and Nicaragua also disconnected from the rogue stateColombia, and only a few months later, relations were resumed when Colombia had apologized and declared that it would not repeat itself. The crisis and the US intervention in the attack on Ecuador led the Ecuadorian parliament in March 2008 to decide to close all foreign military installation in Ecuador. The move unilaterally targeted the United States for its support of the attack on Ecuador. In July 2009, the last North American soldiers left the Manta naval base, from which the United States had taken numerous actions in the previous 10 years to intercept drug traffic. Instead, the superpower entered into an agreement with Colombia to use 7 of this country’s military bases – with the aim of intimidating the other countries in the region. The move was met with strong protests from Ecuador, Brazil and Venezuela.
In September 2008, the country’s new constitution was passed by a referendum with 69.5% of the vote. Firstly, the new constitution included environmental rights. The new constitution also stated that Ecuador cannot give sovereignty over private trade to international organizations. Finally, the new constitution for marriage between persons of the same sex opened.
Following the adoption of a new constitution, elections were held in April 2009 for parliament and for the presidency. Correa already won the presidential post in the first round of elections with 52% of the vote. His party, the PAIS Alliance, became the largest in Parliament with 59 seats out of 124. Few seats from having an absolute majority.
Also in April, the finance minister traveled to Europe to try to buy Ecuador’s government bonds at 30% of their value. It succeeded extensively. In May, the state announced that it had purchased 91% of government bonds at 35% of their face value.