ECUADOR: Salesian Polytechnic University receives award for humanitarian efforts during country’s recent protest
(MissionNewswire) On Oct. 30, the Salesian Polytechnic University in Ecuador received an award from the Permanent Commission for Education, Culture, and Science and Technology of the National Assembly for its humanitarian actions and dialogue undertaken during the national strike and protest. Father Javier Herrán, rector of the university, and a group of students at the university’s headquarters in Quito received the recognition from the president of the Commission, Honorable Jimmy Candell Soto.
During the national protest, the Salesian Polytechnic University campus in Quito opened its doors to welcome and assist more than 3,000 indigenous people from all over the country. The economic and social crisis that intensified in Ecuador triggered a wave of protests and repression by government forces. Thousands of indigenous people came to Quito to defend the rights of those most in need.
People arrived at the Salesian center tired from their long marches. Many were injured by tear gas, which the police used in response to their protests. Initially, the gymnasium at the university was utilized for the protesters, but the massive arrival of people made it necessary to furnish the courtyards, gardens and any place available to offer rest and shelter to those who wanted to peacefully claim their own rights and defend their country.
In a speech given at the award reception, Fr. Herrán recalled that as he watched the busy students and volunteers, he saw in them the future entrepreneurs and public officials and a new generation of professionals who showed at all times closeness and solidarity with their indigenous brothers. With his voice interrupted by emotion, he concluded, “I believe I have not dreamed and that this world is possible.”
This award was also given to the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador, the National Polytechnic School, the Central University of Ecuador, the Andean University “Simón Bolívar” and the Ecuadorian House of Culture, which also served as reception centers and humanitarian aid centers.
Before delivering the award, Hon. Candell Soto said that the Commission could not fail to underline the great sense of responsibility and attention given by the universities, and he emphasized that the activities carried out in the institutions were justified within the framework of solidarity, humanism and respect for the right to protest.
He said, “In times when hatred, division and social divisions reign, the Ecuadorian university must make its voice calm, humanist, responsible and supportive. We assign this recognition so that thought prevails over brutality, and dialogue over violence.”
The Salesian Polytechnic University is the largest of all Salesian universities with more than 24,500 students. In 2019, for the first time, the university ranked within the top 100 universities in Latin America competing with 4,000 in the region. Across its three campuses, the university offers 27 degree programs and 10 doctorate programs, 62 research groups, 10 educational innovation groups and 98 Salesian Association of Universities groups.
Ecuador’s poverty rate was 36.7 percent in 2007 and dropped to 22.9 percent in 2016. These results show that 1.4 million Ecuadorians escaped poverty within nine years. However, many Ecuadorians still live in impoverished conditions. Ecuador is one of the most inequitable societies in the world, according to UNICEF. The richest 20 percent of the population receives almost 50 percent of the national income, while the poorest 20 percent receives only 5 percent.
According to the World Food Program, almost 26 percent of all children under age 5 have stunted growth, increasing to 31 percent in rural areas and 47 percent in indigenous communities.
Close to 20 percent of Ecuador’s population is people of indigenous heritage. For poor, rural and indigenous youth, education provides the best opportunity for finding employment, reducing inequities and breaking the cycle of poverty. Salesian missionaries have been providing education and other social programs for disadvantaged youth across Ecuador for more than 125 years.
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Salesian Missions – Ecuador
UNICEF – Ecuador