In Costa Rica education is taken seriously and as a consequence the adult illiteracy rate is unusually low for a South American country. Primary education takes 6 years to complete and there are schools in every rural community. It is free, barring a nominal charge of a few dollars.
The first year at high school continues with a similarly academic approach. After this, two streams emerge for the following 4 years, namely professional and technical. Subjects such as a foreign language, maths, science, and social science remain compulsory throughout.
The government approach to vocational training is two-pronged. Training centers in urban centers offer formal training in all the leading trades and technical occupations. In rural areas though, the nation’s young and old must rely on public libraries to extend their knowledge.
Since 1940 the Costa Rican government has established 4 state universities, namely the Costa Rican Institute of Technology, the Distance State University, the National University and the University of Costa Rica. There are a number of smaller private ones too.
The oldest tertiary institution is the University of Costa Rica. It currently enrolls over 30,000 students, many on scholarships and none of whom pay more than $200 a semester. The main campus is in San Pedro. There are satellites in Alajuela, Cartago, Puntarenas and Turrialba.