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Costa Rica Education and Training



Reading and writing skills are very high in Costa Rica. The country introduced compulsory school and duty-free school as early as 1869. Formally, it is compulsory to attend one year in preschool, which three out of four children also do, and then nine years in compulsory school.

The children start first grade at the age of six and pretty much everyone goes the first six years. But only three out of four complete what corresponds to high school, which has raised concerns that Costa Rica will not succeed in maintaining the competitive advantage that educated labor has provided. Almost half of the students leave high school.

High costs for school uniforms and school books, among other things, are considered to contribute to many drop-outs. For some, the distance to the school is a problem. In addition, school days often begin at seven, as public schools have a morning and an afternoon shift.

  • Allcitypopulation: Offers a list of biggest cities in the state of Costa Rica, including the capital city which hosts major colleges and universities.
  • COUNTRYAAH: Country facts of Costa Rica, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.

In 2006, the government introduced a cash grant for poor families who have their young people in school, which increased the proportion who attend school. Investments have also been made to train teachers as many lack formal competence.

There are five state and some 50 private universities and colleges. The largest state university is the Universidad de Costa Rica, which has close to 40,000 students and branches in several parts of the country. Higher education keeps high quality and also attracts students from other countries.

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Proportion of children starting primary school

96.6 percent (2016)

Number of pupils per teacher in primary school

12 (2016)

Reading and writing skills

97.4 percent (2011)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP

30.2 percent (2017)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of the state budget

30.2 percent (2017)



Mark occupants are ordered to leave the reservation

A court orders the state to seize land owned by non-Indians in a reserve in Talamanca off the Caribbean coast, and to ensure that the land occupants leave the reserve. The land is to be returned to the indigenous people bribri, which technically already owns it. This is the first time such a decision has been made, despite the fact that the law that gave the indigenous people the right to the land was established as early as 1977.


Government reform after strike

The president is hard pressed by the opposition and forced to reform the government since the resignation of the health minister. The crisis follows a strike among health care professionals, which called for reforms of the resource-poor social insurance system.


The ruling party loses support in Parliament

President Laura Chinchilla's party PLN loses control of parliament when the right-wing ML withdraws its support, due to disagreement over proposed financial reforms. ML and all other opposition parties instead form an alliance and thus have the opportunity to elect the President and take control of the work of the legislative assembly.


Jail for ex-president

Former President Miguel Ángel Rodríguez (1998–2002) is sentenced to five years in prison for corruption. The judgment is appealed.


Court order on border dispute

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague orders both Costa Rica and Nicaragua to withdraw all personnel from the disputed Isla Portillos area on the San Juan border. Costa Rica is given the right to send environmental experts to investigate whether the dredging Nicaragua has engaged in has caused any damage.

No tax on gambling

The government is withdrawing its proposal to impose a tax on gambling activities, an important election promise on how the fight against crime would be financed.


"Defense network" is being built

The dispute with Nicaragua (see Foreign Policy and Defense) causes Costa Rica to rust, even though the country has no army. Security Minister José María Tijerino announces that a "national defense network" has begun to be established. The network includes, for example, helicopter landing sites, roads and barbed wire in the disputed area.



Increased drug trafficking in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is included for the first time in the US Foreign Ministry's annual list of 20 countries that are central to the manufacture or smuggling of drugs. It is a reminder of the deteriorating security situation in the country. Cocaine seizures and homicide rates have increased.


Chinchilla becomes President

Laura Chinchilla becomes the country's first female president. Chinchilla begins by issuing four decrees that she says reflect election promises to improve security, fight poverty and preserve "green" Costa Rica.


PLN wins elections

National Liberation Party (PLN) candidate Laura Chinchilla wins the presidential election in the first round. She wins with 47 percent of the vote, against 25 percent for Ottón Solís from the Citizens Action (PAC) and 21 percent for Otto Guevara from the Libertarian Movement (ML). In the election to the Legislative Assembly, PLN receives 24 seats, PAC 11, ML 9, the Christian Social Unity Party (Pusc) 6 and Accessibility without exception (Pase) 4, while three small parties receive 1 mandate each.



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