I open this blog again in my crusade to change mistaken recognition papers from the Danish to the Ecuadorian schooling system; eventhough, this blog is called “desde Kolding” (from Kolding) and I am no longer living there –although by heart I am still and for long will be there–.
Threes years ago I travelled to Denmark together with my family. My two children attended the Danish folkeskole, Avelina finished in Quito the 7th. grade and was received in the Danish 6th grade. Rebeca finished the 4th and was received in the Danish 3rd. The numbers correspond to the children’s age. Their previous studies in Ecuador were accepted, as they attended the grade corresponding to their age. We lived 3 years in Denmark. Avelina finished the 8th grade and received grades for her studies, in Denmark children start receiving grades just on that year. Rebeca finished the 5th grade and received a qualitative assessment, as there are no grades under the 8th.
We came back home last August. Children started first at their old school. We were not quite happy about the education system in there, as they actually have a policy against the use of technology in class, which we were not eager to comply. Two months later we asked the International section of the American School in Quito to admit them there, and they moved to this school. Things were going well, we thought.
However, this new school said that they couldn’t receive the children until the Ministry of Education accepts their studies abroad. We visited the Ministry and they asked for the international Apostille seal in all their papers. As we don’t have a Danish Embassy in Quito, and the consulate is actually just a commercial affairs office, our requirement was sent first to Bolivia and afterwards to Chile, we didn’t receive any response from them. I decided to send the papers through certified post to the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Copenhaguen. We asked the school to receive them meanwhile, as the papers will take long, and that was ok.
I must recognize that our post is really good. The papers travelled on less than 8 days and were delivered with the Apostille by the Ministry to my Danish parents’ address. My Danish parents, as always, helped me sending the papers back by certified mail to my address in Quito. This time the travel took much longer. They arrived mid-December and I took them to the Ministry of Education for their acceptance.
Before Christmas, we received the resolution from the Ministry: they accept the papers but send the children one year back, this is Rebeca should go back to 7th grade in Quito, and not 8th which is the grade where she is now, and Avelina should go back to 10th grade instead of 11th (1st. bachelor) where she is. And this is because their decision is taken upon a table that the Ministry uses for international studies recognition (see below).
This table is not well designed as children have different ages in Ecuador and in Denmark on a same row, therefore 8th in Denmark is equated to 9th in Ecuador, but children are 14 years old in Denmark at 8th grade and 13 years old in Ecuador at 9th grade. The correct equivalence should be 8th in Denmark equates 10th in Ecuador. I tried by all means to explain the people from the Ministry the error, but they say that this table was done by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and that if it says that 8th equates 9th it is not because children’s age, but because of the schooling they have received so far.
I realize that the table is quite old, as it does not include the 0.grade which is the starting year now in Denmark. Children actually start with 6 years in 0.klasse. The next page of this paper, the legal background to compare foreign studies, includes the Danish old 13-grades scale, which was changed on 2006 to a 7-grade scale. According to that, for example a 4 in the current system will equate a 7 in the old scale (7-trin skala) The Ecuadorian table that appears in the recognition law used by the Ministry of Education, remains with the old Danish-schooling system and scales. That needs to change.
I am trying by all means to make them see the mistake which makes my children to have studied 3 years in Denmark and just two of them are being recognized. They haven’t failed a year, they have learn lots of different things, one of those is that they have mastered the Danish language which is not easy, they have used equipment in labs that are only available at university level in here. And still our Ministry means that the Danish system is one year behind ours. Nonsense.
I have tried to talk to the Minister of Education in charge. I was sent to his lawyer, who apparently understands the problem but to make my children go into the appropriate class, the whole legal system needs to change. The Ministry of Foreign affairs has to recognize the mistake and ask for a change in the education law. Now I understand how important are international relations, and the big role that embassies have around the world. Without a Danish embassy in Ecuador, it is quite difficult … but not impossible.
I have tried to talk to the Danish embassy in La Paz, Bolivia which is intended to work for all the Andean region. I hope that they will find this issue important and will lend me a hand. Maybe if from Denmark there is a petition for them to take this issue could be easier. Therefore, I asked my friends in Denmark to whom I should contact in the Ministry of Education in Copenhagen, they sent me to the Board for Education and Quality (STUK – Styrelsen for Undervisning og Kvalitet). I haven’t received yet a response, but the automatic-response from the machine.
The officer at the Ministry of Education in Quito means that the tables are right, I argue with all the Danish documentation published in their website that they are not. She says that of course we cannot be the only case, and that if there was a mistake there must be a bunch of cases awaiting for resolution. I think that other people that have faced this same problem in the past, have just given up. These mistaken recognition tables have the same unequal ages for all the Scandinavian countries, I checked those of Sweden, Norway and Finland. I do not intent to give up.
There is a mistake and it needs to change. I am in my right to make their studies abroad be recognized and my “mission” is to be a not-named ambassador of Denmark in Ecuador, that makes us realize how wonderful for my children was to learn abroad from an amazing country that needs to be known, recognized and take it seriously by our government.
I will not dismay, but do need support from the Danish missions abroad, and from friends and family that instead of asking me for resignation, support me and put me in contact with the people that could indeed modify this anachronism in the Ecuadorian education system.