Talking about education in Costa Rica, is talking about the most important institution. If, since half a century ago it was said that Costa Rica had more teachers than soldiers, today it can be stated that by the law of the Republic, there is no army and also that there is no single core of Costa Rican population which doesn’t have its own school.
The country’s education system is divided into three main sections. Elementary, Secondary or High School (70% public and 30% private institutions) and University education. There are about 3450 primary schools and 200 secondary schools. The school period is from February to December, with a short break of two weeks in July.
In fact, primary education has been, by law, free and obligatory since 1869, and paid by the state. 25% of the national budget is devoted to education. A large number of children attend to preschool at an early age, on the other hand, students must attend school until the end of ninth grade, which is at the age of 14-15 years. As a result, the country has the highest literacy rate in Latin America (93%) having their literacy to compete with larger and more industrialized nations of the world.
For many visitors it is surprising that the frequent processions that take place in patriotic or protocol acts, are carried out within a framework of absolute civility, by a “military” of uniformed students, with their bands and the national tricolor flag.
The higher education sector is strong, as it has been developing well since the last century, but it was not until 1940 that the University of Costa Rica (UCR), the largest university in the country, was founded. Thirty years later, it created some other public universities such as the National University (UNA), the Technological Institute of Costa Rica (ITCR), the Autonomous University of Central America (UACA) and the Distance State University (UNED). The first of many private universities were established in 1977.
All these institutions together, and the existence of private schools and signed agreements with universities in other countries, particularly the United States, have been opening doors to great possibilities for developing the national potential. In fact, Costa Rica is self sufficient in terms of professionals. It is worth indicating that from many countries of the world students come to prepare in our schools of higher learning, especially in the areas of medicine, engineering, business administration and agricultural sciences.
The Ministry of Public Education is the responsible entity for guaranteeing the right education and it’s quality, adequate infrastructure and equipment for the proper functioning of the education system and promoting the integral development of student populations, as well as contributing to a stable and adequate funding of the education system.
University of Costa Rica (UCR), San Pedro, Guanacaste, Limón, San Ramón and Turrialba. (2207-5080, www.ucr.ac.cr)
Tecnological Institute of Costa Rica (ITCR), Cartago, San José and San Carlos. (2550-2218, www.tec.cr)
National University (UNA), Heredia. (2277-3199, www.una.ac.cr)
Distance State University (UNED), Sabanilla. (2224-1766, www.uned.ac.cr)
School of Agriculture of the Humid Tropical Region (EARTH) Guácimo, Limón. (2713-0000, www.earth.ac.cr)
Central American Institute of Business Administration (INCAE) La Garita, Alajuela (2437-2200, www.incae.edu)
International University of America (UIA) San Jose. (2258-0220, ww.uia.ac.cr)
Latin American University of Science and Technology (ULACIT) San José. (2257-5767, www.ulacit.ac.cr)
Fidelitas University, San Pedro. (2253-0262, www.ufidelitas.ac.cr)
Latin University (Former Latin University of Costa Rica or ULatina) San Pedro. (2283-2611, www.ulatina.ac.cr)
American University (UAM) The Yoses, Heredia and Cartago. (2253-8350, www.uam.ac.cr)
Central America Autonomous University (UACA) Curridabat, Guanacaste, San Ramón, Ciudad Neily and Guápiles. (2272-9100, www.uaca.ac.cr)
Creative University, Sabanilla. (2283-6880, www.ucreativa.com)
Iberoamerican University (UNIBE) Tibás. (2297-2242, www.unibecostarica.com)
Catholic University of Costa Rica, Moravia. (2240-2121, www.ucatolica.ac.cr)
La Salle University, Sabana Sur. (2290-1010, www.ulasalle.ac.cr)
University of Medical Sciences (UCIMED) Sabana Oeste. (2296-3944, www.ucimed.com)
Veritas University, Zapote. (2225-2907, www.uveritas.ac.cr)
Latin University (Former Interamerican University of Costa Rica or UICR) Heredia. (2277-8000, www.uinteramericana.edu)
Central American University of Business Cience (UCEM) Alajuela. (2440-2090, www.ucem.ac.cr)
University for Peace, Ciudad Colon. (2205-9000, www.upeace.org)