Selected Moments of the 20th Century

A work in progress edited by Daniel Schugurensky
Department of Adult Education and Counselling Psychology,
The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE/UT)


1986  Rafael Correa volunteers as popular educator in Zumbahua, Ecuador; "that was my real master's degree", he recalls 

    Rafael Correa, elected as President of Ecuador in 2006 at age 43, pursued academic studies at the Universidad Católica de Santiago de Guayaquil (Ecuador) and the Catholic University of Louvaine (Belgium), and completed a doctoral degree in economics at the University of Illinois (USA). However, he claims that his true masters' program took place twenty years before, in 1986, when he did volunteer work as a Catholic popular educator in the rural parish of Zumbahua in the province of Cotopaxi, a region with a large indigenous population. 

    In Zumbahua, a young Rafael Correa taught mathematics, trained indigenous teachers, provided religious instruction (catechism) and created a network of rural micro-enterprises. Inspired by the principles of liberation theology and by Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Correa was part of a mission of a Salesian order that combined the evangelization of indigenous peasants with their human development. During that year, Correa learned Quichua, the language of Ecuador's highland Indians. Residents of the town of Zumbahua remember Correa as a young man who walked two or three hours to remote villages in a poncho and broken shoes to give classes (Kozloff 2006). 

    "Allí hice mi verdadera maestría,” Correa recalled several times during the presidential electoral campaign, and it was precisely in Zumbahua where, after being sworn as President of Ecuador, he was accepted as leader by the country’s largest indigenous community. In the acceptance ceremony, surrounded by the Andean mountains and a crowd of over 40,000 people, Correa received a streamer-draped scepter signifying authority from five Indian priests. Present at the ceremony was Cesar Umajinga, the prefect of Cotopaxi and former student of Correa in Zumbahua two decades ago. 

    Alluding to Martin Luther King's dream of a United States free of racial discrimination, Correa said, “Mi sueño es ver un país sin miseria, sin niños de la calle, una Patria sin opulencia, pero digna y feliz” (My dream is to see a country without extreme poverty, without children begging in the streets, a nation without opulence but dignified and happy). 

    Then, he closed his address in Quichua  language saying that "A new day has arrived. This government belongs to all men and women. Let us not be frightened. God bless our land!” 


Hayes, Monte (2007). Leftist nationalist assumes presidency in Ecuador, promising major changes. The Independent, January 16. 

Kozloff, Nikolas (2006). The rise of Rafael Correa Ecuador and the contradictions of Chavismo. ZNet, November 26, 2006. 

Scardamaglia, Virginia (2007). De misionero salesiano a presidente. Pagina 12, January 21. 

Prepared by DS, OISE/University of Toronto, 2007

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