The Ecuadorian Constitution requires that all children attend school until they achieve a “basic level of education,” which is estimated at nine school years. Research has been published placing the quality of education in Ecuador as the worst in Latin America.
In 1996, the net primary enrollment rate was 96.9 percent, and 71.8 percent of children stayed in school until the fifth grade. Primary school attendance rates were unavailable for Ecuador as of 2001.
While enrollment rates indicate a level of commitment to education, they do not always reflect children’s participation in school. The cost of primary and secondary education is borne by the government, but families often face significant additional expenses such as fees and transportation costs. In 2000, government spending on education declined, both in real terms and as a proportion of GDP. By 2012, GDP spending had gone from 2.6% to 5.2%.
During the 1998-1999 school year, almost 235,000 students were enrolled in institutions of higher education, or approximately 14% of the population between 18-24 years old. Approximately 80% attend public universities while the other 20% attend private universities. The Central University of Ecuador and the Universidad San Francisco de Quito account for almost 50% of enrollments. The graduation rate at public universities is rarely more than 15%.
The 2008 Constitution of Ecuador eliminated tuition in public universities. Starting in 2012, admission to the country’s 29 public universities will be based on an aptitude test.
^Rojas, Carlos (2003). "Education". In Frete-Cibils, Vicente; Giugale, Marcelo M.; López-Cálix, José Roberto. Ecuador: An Economic and Social Agenda in the New Millennium. World Bank Publications. pp. 275–276. ISBN0-8213-5545-7.