Costa Rica boasts free and mandatory education for all citizens since 1869. The education system has grown and matured over the last three decades and now it claims a nearly 95% of literacy rate in residents age 15 and older. There are public elementary and high schools in every community and private schools are scattered all around the country as well. Many of the private schools teach a second and even a third language and follow international curriculums. The country also has both public and private universities that offer quality higher education at reasonable prices. Although Costa Rica’s investment in the education sector has shown to be worthwhile, there are considerable areas of improvement.
1. Practical use of Technology
As stated by Michael Timms, National Project Manager ATC21S for the USA, “We are surrounded by technology, and kids are digital natives. They go into the classroom, and they don`t see the same use of technology in their education as they might in their outside lives. If education doesn´t start to address that issue, there will be a disconnect in what kids see in their lives growing up and when they get out in the workplace.”
2. Integration of Life Skills
The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) has a core mandate of improving equity and learning by strengthening 21-century skills in education systems. This includes a set of skills that allows us to think, work and live as part of a local and global village. Skills such as communication, innovation, reasoning, and creativity, among others are essential from early on in every child`s learning process.
3. Ethics and Paradigm Shift
As Steve Jobs once put it, “technology alone is not enough”. There is a need for change in the paradigm in order to save the ethics that sustain education systems. There is a need for core values that will foster self-awareness and management, responsible decision making, and social awareness.
Consequently, the Costa Rican education system needs to work more on graduating confident self-directed learners who then become concerned citizens that act and contribute to this planet.