Education in Costa Rica

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As Costa Rica’s economy has developed in recent decades, the education system that helped propel the country to upper middle-income status now needs reform to respond to rising expectations and changing demands for skills. New challenges are emerging: economic growth has recently slowed, inequality is widening and productivity growth is weak. How can Costa Rica improve both the quality and equity of its education system while also addressing efficiency challenges? This report assesses Costa Rica’s policies and practices against best practice in education from across the OECD and other reference countries in the Latin American region. It analyses its education system’s major strengths and the challenges it faces, from early childhood education and care to tertiary education. It offers recommendations on how Costa Rica can improve quality and equity to ensure strong, sustainable and inclusive growth. This report will be of interest in Costa Rica as well as other countries looking to raise the quality, equity and efficiency of their education systems.



Basic education in Costa Rica: from access to learning for all

Costa Rica was among the first countries in Latin America to achieve universal enrolment in primary education and today most students make the transition to secondary school. The challenge ahead is to ensure that all students in school benefit from good teaching and a positive learning environment, that they complete at least the nine years of basic education, and that they gain strong foundation skills. Nearly one third of 15-year-olds are already out of school, while one third of those who remain lack core competencies. By the end of basic education, students from poor families have fallen two years behind their wealthier peers, compromising their future life chances. To improve learning for all, this chapter recommends renewed policy efforts to consolidate a high-quality teaching profession, build the capacity of schools to take the lead on improvement, and strengthen system-level evaluation to successfully drive and monitor reform across the system.


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