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UB confers an honorary doctorate on the president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa

The Rector gives the honorary doctorate to Rafael Correa.

The Rector gives the honorary doctorate to Rafael Correa.

Rafael Correa during his speech.

Rafael Correa during his speech.

Rafael Correa together with the dean Elisenda Paluzie and the patrons Joan Tugores and Joaquim Prats.

Rafael Correa together with the dean Elisenda Paluzie and the patrons Joan Tugores and Joaquim Prats.

The rector pronounces his speech.

The rector pronounces his speech.



Today, Wednesday 23 April, the University of Barcelona (UB) has conferred an honorary doctorate on Rafael Correa, president of Ecuador. The honour was proposed by the Faculty of Economics of Business and defended by Dr Joan Tugores, professor of Economic Theory and former rector of UB, and Dr Joaquim Prats, professor of Teacher Training in Social Sciences. Both professors emphasized Correa’s commitment to designing ambitious education programmes in order to improve the quality of primary, secondary and higher education in Ecuador, with the aim of fighting against social inequalities.

Rafael Correa (Guayaquil, 1963) has been the president of the Republic of Ecuador since January 2007. He holds a degree in Economics from the Catholic University of Santiago de Guayaquil, a master of arts in Economics from the Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL) and a PhD in Economics from the University of Illinois. Correa has a distinguished academic career. He has been lecturer at institutions such as the Catholic University of Santiago de Guayaquil and the University of San Francisco de Quito, where he headed the Department of Economics between 2001 and 2005. The president of Ecuador started his political career in April 2005, when he was appointed Minister for Economics and Finances. In 2006, Correa founded the political party Alianza País and won the elections. Then, he was re-elected in 2009 and 2013.

On his speech, Joan Tugores highlighted that “Rafael Correa’s political career shows the principles and values that he promoted as an academic; they have enabled him to perform a clear analysis of the problems that his country and the world have”. Moreover, he stressed that “his scientific publications point out job creation and poverty and inequality reduction, as well as the concept of ‘social debt’ as the most remarkable responsibilities of a society in health, education and social protection”. Tugores underlined that the political programme of the president of Ecuador shows that “there are many constructive ways to understand and change the world that must to be explored”. “Some weeks ago —explained Tugores— IMF published some data for Ecuador that doubled the ones for Latin America and trebled the ones for Europe in indexes as traditional as GDP, and were considerably better in diverse aspects like current account balance or unemployment”.

Joaquim Prats reviewed Correa’s career as lecturer at the Catholic University of Santiago de Guayaquil, where he headed the Department of Economics, and emphasized his desire to improve education as the fundamental element of the deep transformation that Ecuador is living. Prats praised “changes’ radical nature and speed”. He revised the different reforms carried out and pointed out the Constitution passed in 2008; it establishes that education is a necessary condition to achieve equal opportunity and welfare state “because it ensures free, universal and secular public education”. Furthermore, he highlighted some Ecuador’s actions: the promotion of active participation of the educative community and families in education processes; the setting up of an adult learning programme; teacher status increase has been established as a prior objective, and in the field of higher education, a dramatic change has been promoted in quality accreditation programmes which meant the closing of fourteen low quality universities and the creation of programmes to increase quality at the rest of universities.

The rector of UB, Dídac Ramírez, quoted a passage from the latest book of Jorge Wagensberg, El pensador intruso. It affirms that “the most important is not the person who receives the award or the person who gives it, but the thing awarded, in other words, the prize”. The rector pointed out that “today’s ceremony has awarded a strong commitment to education”. Ramírez emphasized that thanks to a high-quality public education and adult learning programmes, Ecuador has make a considerable progress towards a desirable welfare state and has increased substantially mobility grants. Referring to Wagensberg’s work —which defines an intrusive thinker as the researcher who decides to get closer to the border between subject areas—, the rector highlighted that Correa “owns the characteristics of this ‘intrusive thinker’: determined commitment to knowledge and resilience to face difficulties. His knowledge and resilience emerge from developing an effective and equitable public policy that gets over the restrictions posed by dominant theories when we withdraw neoclassical liberal positions”. Ramírez ended his speech affirming that “there is no better way to ensure the progress of a nation than education”.

On his investiture speech “El desarrollo como proceso político: el caso del Ecuador” (Development as a political process: the case of Ecuador), Rafael Correa expressed his gratitude for receiving the honorary doctorate and confessed that coming back to ‘the academy’ renews his soul “because simplicity prevails in academic life and no one dares to say any lies, whereas in politics people usually speak more about what they less know”. He has praised Catalonia and the love for culture that can be breathed. He referred to St Jordi’s day and mentioned personalities such as Montserrat Caballé, Joan Manuel Serrat, Pau Casals and Antoni Gaudí. Besides, Correa expressed his admiration for the resistance that the University of Barcelona and the Catalans have shown throughout the history to preserve their culture. “Ideas are always stronger than weapons”, he affirmed.

Correa has deliberately dedicated the honorary doctorate to “his migrant brothers and sisters and the hospitality and openness that Catalonia has showed to them”. He ensured that the financial liberalization that took place in 1994 is the main cause of Ecuador’s economic crisis. Moreover, referring to Europe’s crisis, he strongly criticized what he names ‘a theo-classical economic theory’, which legitimizes all the excesses of the capital without setting any limit. He expressed his refusal “to the absolutely abusive clauses of mortgage contracts”. Correa ensures that “the inflexibility of banks has led us to a remarkable lack of ethics: people without home and houses without people”.

President Correa considers that economic recovery first requires that society takes again the control over markets. His speech described his government policy: “To overcome extreme poverty is humanity’s most important moral imperative not only because is the most serious attack to human rights, but also because it is the first time in history that poverty is not due to resource scarcity but to exclusive systems”.

Among achieved objectives, he emphasized the bought of external debt, the negotiation on new and better fuel contracts and the creation of the ‘dignified salary’; since its implementation in 2011 salaries have increased and minimum wage is equivalent to the dignified salary.

“Education is our priority”, he stated. “Nowadays, the Ministry of Education is the post which receives the highest number of resources. Now, we invest 4.6 times more than in 2006”. He regretted that public primary education offering practically did not exist some years ago. He explained that Ecuador is building many primary schools and regulating private education centres. He ensured that these measures have already attained “primary education universalization in Ecuador and we are working to get it in the case of secondary education”. The Government has avoided enrolment fees, structured education offerings and promoted children’s schooling by offering books, uniforms and dining services.

The President underlined that “a quality culture is being consolidated; institutions, teachers and students are evaluated”. He also mentioned the creation of the National University of Education that aims at updating Ecuadorean teachers’ knowledge and practices by means of blended postgraduate courses. Four new universities have been created; one of them is the University of Yachay. Fernando Albericio, professor of Organic Chemistry from UB, will be the rector of the institution.

Correa defended that “the political, economic and social systems that will prevail in the future will be those which allow a major scientific and technological progress, but also its best application for the common good”.


Collaboration agreement with Ecuador’s Government

A collaboration agreement has been signed in parallel to the ceremony. The University of Barcelona will get involved in the development of Ecuador’s university policy. The agreement establishes some courses of action, for instance knowledge, expert, teacher and student exchanges in areas considered to be strategic for the South-American country to change its productive model. Some of these areas are applied research, talent promotion, environmental sustainability, critical thinking promotion and teacher training addressed to education development.


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