A government agency in Ecuador recently recognized a K-12 Seventh-day Adventist school as one of the top educational institutions in that South-American country. The National Institute of Educational Assessment granted Ecuador Adventist College Academy (CADE), based in Santo Domingo de las Tsáchilas, Pichincha, the “Rita Lecumberri Award to Educational Excellence” 2017 after the school ranked as one of the top twenty schools among the 3,360 assessed across the nation.
The award, officially announced in late January, is not a one-person endeavor, believes the school principal Fabiola Cushicondor. “This honor is the result of our faculty, our students, and our students’ parents’ teamwork,” she said.
To qualify for the award, institutions underwent extensive evaluations during 2016, following the standards and national exams applied by the Department of Education of Ecuador.
The national educational award implies a recognition based on various aspects of a school performance, including an academic assessment of its senior year students, the academic and continuous education qualifications of its faculty, and an overall score of the school in several areas, reported the South-American Division News Agency. “Out of 1,000 possible points, CADE got 902 points,” shared the news agency, something that effectively “makes it one of the best twenty schools in the country.”
Principal Cushicondor says the government recognition—which includes a certificate signed by Ecuador president Rafael Correa—is not the result of chance, but a natural consequence of being faithful and putting God first. “I believe every Seventh-day Adventist school has the potential of becoming a model for others to follow since our philosophy [of education] places us at the forefront of values transmission,” she said.
"In our school, values and educational excellence are not opposites but two sides of the same coin."
According to the national newspaper El Comercio, Ecuador educational authorities applied their evaluation standards to 255,000 students and 140,000 teachers in 2016. In the past, the award was meant to honor only the best teachers in the country, said Freddy Peñafiel, Ecuador Secretary of Education. “In the last few years, however, it was decided to extend it as a way of acknowledging team efforts,” he said.
While CADE is unapologetically Christian, instilling good Christian values in its students is not its only legacy. In the last few years, the school, founded in 1968, has also become known for its emphasis on research and innovation. In 2014, three senior students were awarded an honorable mention in the Mostratec World Student Science Fair in Novo Hamburgo, Brazil, reported the El Universo national newspaper. The students were honored for their research and development of “Mineral Z,” a cost-effective alternative to turpentine.
“It goes on to prove that in our school, values and educational excellence are not opposites but two sides of the same coin,” leaders said.