Salesians have been in Ecuador since January 1888 as a result of the agreement signed by Don Bosco and the representative of the Ecuadorian government in Turin (Italy) in 1887. The agreement entrusted Salesians with the Catholic Protectorate of Arts and Crafts in Quito, so that they could "transmit moral and scientific education to children as well as improve the national industry through the systematic teaching of crafts". Soon, the evangelical and educational work of Salesians spread to other cities in Ecuador, standing out was the Foundation of Missions in the Amazon (Oriente) in places like Gualaquiza (1893), Indanza ( 1914), Mendez (1915), Macas (1924), Sucua (1931) and Limón (1936). In education, works in Quito (1888) included the establishment of workshops in arts and crafts in the Catholic Protectorate; in Riobamba (1881) a primary school, workshops and a festive oratory were founded. In Cuenca, workshops and the festive oratory started in 1893.
In Quito, in La Tola neighborhood (1896) mechanic workshops, carpentry workshops, a primary school and a church devoted to Maria Auxiliadora were opened. In Guayaquil (1904) the Domingo Santistevan Institute for orphans was founded with the sponsorship of the Beneficiary Group and in 1911, in the Centenario neighborhood the Cristobal Colon High School for humanistic education of the youth was established. In Manabi (1927) the Salesians were in charge of the Rocafuerte Community, where a primary school and a festive oratory were established.
Since 1888 educational and apostolic work throughout Ecuador has increased, it has spread into diverse social groups to respond to the needs of young people, especially the poor, through quality education based on the Preventive System and inspired by the values of the Gospel, in order to educate "honest citizens and good Christians.
Nowadays, there are around 200 Salesians of Don Bosco in Ecuador who are dispersed in 27 communities in the coast, highlands and the Amazon.
Salesian presence within the University field is relatively new, except for its educational experience in India in 1934 and the Pontifical Salesian University in Turín which has been educating Salesians in Higher Education since 1940 initially as a Salesian Pontifical Athenaeum and then since 1973 as a University based in Rome.
There are currently 35 Salesian groups responsible for Higher Education, which means there is a high and constant growth of Salesian Universities around the world.
New demands from Pastoral Youth made the Salesian Society expand among young people. Salesians were determined by a principle of continuing education that required additional educational accompaniment beyond teenage years. They were willing to provide a lot of young people with poor economic and social conditions opportunities to have access to the university which was a privileged place for vocational guidance through a wide and specific perspective.
On August 4th 1994, Ecuadorian president, Sixto Durán Ballen, signed the Presidential decree that created Universidad Politécnica Salesiana (UPS) in Ecuador. UPS was established during a critical social and economic period.
Once the project to start the University was approved, the Salesian Society in Ecuador started to set up the new center of Higher Education in October 1994.
Previously, on September 6th 1994 they held the first University Council and the inauguration of the University President and Vice President. Universidad Politécnica Salesiana is a center for Higher Education that is aware of the educational problems the country faces such as:
• The need to educate a holistic, scientific, practical, human, and ethical professional.
• The need for the university to be involved with the community.
• The need for science and technology to be part of an integral world of education.
• The need for research to be connected with finding solutions to big social problems
The objectives of Universidad Politecnica Salesiana are:
a) To educate underprivileged people, people with disabilities, indigenous people and afro ecuadorians.
b) To encourage dialogue between different national cultures and develop projects that favor interculturality in the country.
c) To apply processes that ensure co-government and gender equality in the university management system
d) To promote pastoral education and encourage a relationship between reason, faith and culture.
e) To promote learning models based on Salesian principles and which focus on students
f) To offer academic undergraduate and postgraduate programs approved by the Higher Education Council, continuing education courses, community engagement projects, research processes, cultural dissemination and respect for the environment, with high quality standards to provide solutions to society's problems and needs.
g) To guarantee academic freedom and freedom of thought, equal opportunities and no discrimination
h) To design academic curriculums which do not imply the incorporation of subjects aimed at religious indoctrination
20 years ago Salesian universities emerged strongly on various continents. Don Bosco's eighth successor Don Juan Edmundo Vecchi Monti (1995-2002) realized that the General Administration of the Salesian Congregation should be in charge of accompanying and directing university institutions that were being developed.
In this regard and after various meetings worldwide, on January 7th, 2003, the Salesian President, Don Pascual Chavez Villanueva and his congress in plenary session unanimously approved the documents "Identity of Salesian Institutions for Higher Education" and "Policies of the Presence of Salesians in Higher Education". Today, these documents constitute the guidelines for the IUS (Salesian Institutes of Higher Education) and supervise projects in different countries where Salesian presence exists.
In these two documents the IUS will find instruments to direct and govern their works, a description of fundamental guidelines, the identification of new methods and the objectives to be fulfilled. As a result, the Salesian congregation will firmly create an educational tradition within the university field.