Free Statistics training courses in Galapagos

-- Press Release -- The Charles Darwin Foundation (FCD) and the Ecuadorian Society for Statistics (ESS), with the support from the Galapagos National Park Directorate (GNPD) and the Agency for the Regulation and Control of Telecommunications (Arcotel), organised the first training course covering basic statistical principles, data manipulation and visualisation, and R programming in Puerto Ayora, Galapagos. This free training course took place between February 18-20 and it was open to all members of the local community.

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Attendees during the first day of the training course organised by the Charles Darwin Foundation and the Ecuadorian Society for Statistics outside Arcotel building in Puerto Ayora, Galapagos

A total of 28 people coming from a variety of government institutions, not for profit organisations and local high schools participated in this free training course, which is part of the technical capacity building branch of CDF’s community education program, called ECO Program. The main aim of this joint initiative between the CDF and the ESS is to provide access to members of the Puerto Ayora community to courses that will allow them to develop technical capabilities that are applicable across a great variety of industries, including tourism and conservation.

Denisse Fierro Arcos, Marine Ecologist working with CDF Sharks Ecology Project and organizer of R-Ladies Galapagos Chapter is the lead organiser of this training program in the islands. When asked about her motivation to get involved in this project, Denisse commented: “In Puerto Ayora and actually in the Galapagos in general, access to opportunities that allow you to develop more technical skills, such as statistical analysis and programming are almost non-existent. If people are interested in developing these skills, they have no choice but to travel to other provinces in mainland Ecuador to have access to these training programs. This significantly increases the total cost of training for people in the Galapagos as they also need to cover the cost of airfares, food and lodging, which restricts access to this sort of training programs to people with high purchasing power, thus contributing to the perpetuation of socio-economic inequality in the country. As one of the leading scientific organisations on the islands, it is important that the CDF contributes not only to the conservation of the fragile ecosystems found in the archipelago, but also to design programs that support the continuous improvement of the community that hosts us”.

Due to the good reception of this opening course, the organisations involved will continue with the development of at least two additional courses during 2020. These follow up sessions will cover more advanced data analysis techniques. These courses will be delivered by statisticians from the ESS and R-Ladies Guayaquil. Nestor Montaño, member of the ESS board and facilitator of this initial course, told us: “The ESS is a not for profit organisation that has been working for 20 years to promote the study of statistics in the country. However, we have noticed that when events related to statistics are organised in the country, they are mostly delivered in the provinces of Pichincha, Guayas and Azuay. We want to expand our focus to include other parts of the country, so we have carried out activities in Chimborazo, Los Rios, and now Galapagos. We hope this marks the beginning of a long collaboration with the CDF that results in the people of Galapagos, from students to scientists, developing data analysis skills that they can apply in their studies or at work. Galapagos largely due to its diversity has an amazing variety of datasets”. He continued, “we must also be aware of technological advances occurring elsewhere around the world. We must help our people develop skills related to artificial intelligence, data science, machine learning, which are part of the 4th Industrial Revolution and are already making news. Our people, our country, cannot lagged behind in these areas, and this is the main reason behind the ESS supporting this sort of events. It is our way of giving back to our community”.

Ricardo Gavilanes, head teacher at Galapagos High School, attended this course and he shared his impressions with us: “This course has been excellent, it allowed me to learn how to use this new tool [R programming language], which seems to be extreme versatile and applicable to a wide range of areas, including science. I believe I can use this tool at work and I will be developing ways to share this new skill to my students.”

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Participants who completed the introductory training during the last day of the course inside the Arcotel auditorium in Puerto Ayora, Galapagos

 

Denisse Fierro Arcos will continue to deliver short training workshop that will build upon the topics covered in this course until the second course in this program is delivered during the first half of the year. This second course will cover more advanced topics, such as inferential statistics and modelling. Details about the course will be shared through social media by the CDF and the ESS closer to the opening day.

Finally, the CDF and ESS encourage members of the public and institutions in the Galapagos interested in replicating this type of free training programs on their island to get in touch with the CDF through their website.

The “Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands”, in French “Fondation Charles Darwin pour les îles Galapagos”, Association International sans but lucratif (“AISBL”), has its registered office located at Chaussée de la Hulpe 177 Bte 20 (rez) - 1170, Brussels, and is registered under the trade registry of Brussels under the number 0409.359.103.

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