Education in Ecuador: Las Lomas School in Cotacachi
Our website gets numerous requests for information about school in Cotacachi, education in Ecuador, and the cost of an education here. Since Gary and I don’t have school-aged children, we haven’t gathered much information about Cotacachi schools, but a visit to Las Lomas has been on my minds for some time. It keeps coming up as the best school choice for the children of expats or foreigners who come to Cotacachi to live.
For a week I had been trying to keep an appointment to visit Las Lomas. And each day I’d have to call Tatyana, the new principal, to cancel because something would come up.
The first day I almost got there and then discovered that my camera battery was dead. Next I sat on the camera and broke off one of the covers, then dropped my other camera. Not a good day to go to the school, I decided.
Finally I kept the appointment and I’m glad it was delayed. A German couple named Hans and Patricia wanted to check out Las Lomas for their nine-year-old daughter, so I took them along. Actually, they had a car so I was able to ride with them. They asked great questions, which made my visit much more interesting and informative.
Sophia’s Integration into Las Lomas Has Been Up and Down
While we waited for Tatyana outside her office, another nine-year-old, Sophia Myers, saw me.
She introduced me to Diana and several of her other new best friends in Ecuador, all fellow classmates of hers in the fifth grade.
Sophia spoke only a few words of Spanish when she started school at Las Lomas last September. Now, less than 4 months later, she is chatting happily in Spanish—asking questions, rough-housing with her friends and appearing at ease with her new language.
She, her parents and Tatyana report that Sophia had a few difficulties in the beginning, mainly with understanding the language and culture. Now, however, she is successfully integrating into life as a student in Ecuador.
Las Lomas is Clean, Orderly and Innovative
Las Lomas is quite a surprise.
The grounds are spotless—wide swaths of green grass, neat white buildings, all innovative and in irregular shapes. The principal says that the school wanted to make the buildings interesting to the children and not the same old rectangles, so some of the buildings are curved and some are anything but 45-degree angles.
Grade school building housing grades 1 and 5
Las Lomas’ 300 students are at 3 levels—kindergarten, grade school and high school. About 170 are in kindergarten and grade school and the rest in high school.
“Lots of love from the teachers”
Tatyana is obviously proud of her teachers and the curriculum.
All but one of the teachers are female. She assured us that the teachers are always attentive to the children and their needs. If there is a problem with a child at school or at home, they talk to the parents to find out what is going on.
There are three parent/teacher meetings per year—one each trimester and more if needed. There is also a psychologist if more serious problems arise. He teaches psychology to the high school students.
“Our teachers love what they do and they love the children,” Tatyana told us. “There is lots of love from the teachers to the students, but the students still have to study.”
Small Teacher/Student Ratio
There are between 15-20 kids in each grade. The school has seven regular teachers for grade school and the children study Spanish, grammar, natural science, math, English, physical education, social studies and computers. There are additional grade school teachers for music, English, physical education, art and computers. High school students additionally have teachers for chemistry, science, one teacher for each subject.
High school at Las Lomas begins at the 8th level when a student reaches the age of twelve. Lunch for grade school is 10:30, later for high schoolers.
Questions and Answers
Hans – Our daughter has had two years of English in Germany but no Spanish. How will she integrate into your school and be able to understand what is going on?
Tatyana – For example, we have a North American student, Sophia, who knew very little Spanish when she started school here last September. So she studied Spanish during vacation and then more at school during her first trimester. She had a Spanish teacher come to her home.
Sophia learns quickly but had trouble during her first trimester. It was hard for her to understand subjects like social studies and grammar.
Now she is doing much better. If possible, it is best for a student attending our school to learn as much Spanish as possible before attending. Then the change of schools and culture is not so difficult or stressful for them.
Hans – How do the children get to school?
Tatyana – Either their parents bring them or the parents arrange for transportation. Some parents contract for a bus. The school doesn’t own a bus. Children come from Cotacachi but also from the nearby towns of Atuntaqui, Otavalo and Ibarra.
School at Las Lomas begins in September with the first trimester ending in December, when exams are given. After Christmas and New Year Holidays, school commences again on January 1 with exams for the second trimester given at the end of March.
Then after a one-week holiday for Semana Santa (Easter) classes resume on April 1 with exams in June. There is a two-month vacation in July and August. All high school students in Ecuador start school on the same date.
Hans – Does Las Lomas prepare a student for entry into a university in Ecuador?
Girls in computer class
Tatyana – Yes. Our students are qualified to enter university in major cities in Ecuador such as Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca, or they can go to university in Ibarra. It all depends upon the course of study they want to pursue.
Patricia – What is the cost of tuition for Los Lomas?
Tatyana – $55 per month.
Tatyana gave us a tour of the campus and classrooms. She welcomes visitors and parents who want to know more about the school
Las Lomas classrooms
7th course students
Male art teacher in 3rd course
First grade classroom
First grade puppet theater
Even the bathrooms are unique and artistic
High school classrooms
High school playing field
More high school classrooms and guardian’s house. The guardian is on campus all day until the last student leaves for home.
Imbabura volcano in the background