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Elementary Education in Costa Rica

We can say that Costa Rica ensured its development as a nation based on a higher education level, which allowed its population to grow in culture and wealth. If you are thinking about enrolling your

We can say that Costa Rica ensured its development as a nation based on a higher education level, which allowed its population to grow in culture and wealth. If you are thinking about enrolling your child in local schools, it may guarantee quality education and development in one of the most popular languages, Spanish.

Believe it or not, the abolition of Costa Rica’s army has a close connection with the country’s education system. Our small country took some of the spendings we used to have for the military to finance public education, and at least 8% of its GDP is allocated to it annually by law.

We understand that looking for a new school can be a challenge when you are an expat. Should your child attend a private school? Is it a good option to send them to a public school? Are there any International schools? Indeed, you can choose between any of those three, especially when your child has good skills for languages.

Luckily, the education quality of all schools remains relatively similar. All citizens are obligated to receive education by law. According to the World Economic Forum, this turned into a fantastic literacy rate, one of the highest in Latin America, 98% for people between 15 and 24.

Primary education is mandatory for children between the ages of 6 and 13. Secondary education is not obligatory and offers two choices: academic high school, which will be finished in five years, and technical, where the teenagers may spend six years. Both systems allow students to get high school diplomas and to qualify for education at universities.

A variety of cultural backgrounds are represented and experienced in plenty of private schools, including the US, UK, France, Germany, and Israel. If you want to make your children feel more comfortable, bilingual schools will allow them to grow in touch with their origins. You may also simply enroll them in the local high schools since the level of education is exceptionally high in Costa Rica.

But what are the variations between public and private schools? Well, public schools are free; families simply need to purchase materials such as school supplies, books, and uniforms. The government and many ONGs help families that cannot buy these materials. On the other side, private schools have high fees and usually don’t offer to subsidize.

Private schools are focused on bilingual education. English is the main language in most of them. Class sizes tend to be smaller, with about 20 kids per group instead of the average 40 from public schools. Ministry of Education guarantees education standards in both types of schools.

Public schools have a limited offer of extra-curricular activities. If you are looking for more options or this topic is important for your children, you may consider private options or complementary courses.

Enlisting my Kids in a Public School

Preschool Education and the first year of Elementary School requires proof of Costa Rican residency for the child, the parents, valid proof of ID from the parents, and a legalized birth certificate issued by the Civil Registry or equivalent official institution in the country of origin. If you cannot get the document, you must present an Affidavit signed before a Notary Public.

To enroll in the second, third, fourth, fifth, or sixth year of Elementary School, you must present an official certification of the last year taken and approved by your child. The corresponding study plan, the grades obtained, and the equivalences of grades in the country of origin. All documentation must be duly legalized. It will be valuable to have previous knowledge of Spanish. If your child is of preschool age, this may not be as necessary.

Schools in Costa Rica are located in every town, so you won’t need to stress about the location. You can do some research with neighbors or friends before deciding which of the nearest schools will be the best option for you and your children.

Going Through the Private School Way

Requirements in private schools may change from one to another. Anyway, it is vital to present your children’s academics records, as in Public schools. Depending on the school you prefer, you may not have to worry about language barriers. Also, they may be flexible with your residency status. Still, you will need to present a valid ID and proof of an address in Costa Rica.

Some private schools give your children the chance to start from preschool and finish high school in the same institution if you want to plan in the long term. Some of the most popular and recognized private institutions are located in Central Valley. But if you plan to live near nature, don’t panic! There are more than five hundred private schools all over the country.

Finally, the fees may vary depending on the institution and the level required. Elementary education is cheaper than High School. Broadly, you might need to spend between 500 USD to 1,000 USD per month.



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