The Ecuadorian Constitution requires that all children attend school until they achieve a “basic level of education,” which is estimated at nine school years.
This article reflects educational realities that, largely, precede the current government which, since 2006, has devoted an increasing percentage of the GDP to education. The article is badly in need of updating since many things have changed in the last 10 years in general in Ecuador but especially in education. Anecdotally, there now appears to be competition to enroll children in publicly funded schools and high schools.
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, National Polytechnic School and the Universidad San Francisco de Quito account for more than 60% of enrollments. The graduation rate at public universities is rarely more than 15%.
National Polytechnic School (Spanish: Escuela Politécnica Nacional), also known as EPN, is a public university located in Quito, Ecuador and is known for research and education in the applied science, astronomy, atmospheric physics, engineering and physical sciences. The Geophysics Institute monitors over the country's seismic, tectonic and volcanic activity in the continental territory and in the Galápagos Islands.
EPN adopted the polytechnic university model that stresses laboratory instruction in applied science and engineering.
One of the oldest observatories in South America is the Quito Astronomical Observatory. Founded in 1873 and located 12 minutes south of the Equator in Quito, Ecuador. The Quito Astronomical Observatory is the National Observatory of Ecuador and is located in the Historic Center of Quito and is managed by the National Polytechnic School.
Universidad San Francisco de Quito, USFQ main campus is located in Cumbayá, outside of Quito, where students use a library, education and research laboratories, classrooms, and seven restaurants. USFQ is the only university in the world that owns a campus in the Galapagos Islands, and a campus in the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve (Tiputini Biodiversity Station), one of Earth's most biodiverse area.
The Central University of Ecuador (Spanish: Universidad Central del Ecuador) is a national university located in Quito, Ecuador. It is the oldest university in Ecuador, established in 1826 and one of the oldest in the Americas. The enrollment is over 10,000 students per year.