Public School in Costa Rica

Public school in Costa Rica is not as cheap as some would think and it is definitely not free. When you add up the cost of materials and uniforms there are children that drop out of school each year because of the exorbitant cost of these items.

School starts the first or second week of February for public schools as they are on the Costa Rica calendar, usually around the 8th or 10th of the month. When school starts the children are required to motor in with a bag of supplies that equals anywhere from $80-$250.00 worth of supplies. This amount would include the mandatory uniforms that they are required to wear. Add this to the transportation cost which is always extra. And don’t forget the backpack which was not included in the cost mentioned above.

When there is a family of 3 or 4 children this amount adds up for a family of a modest income. There is financial support of some sort but honestly I don’t quite understand how that works. This is built in so that children do not drop out of school before the 11th grade and they go onto to University.

Costa Rica is all about education. They pride themselves on the strong educational backbone of the country and to have this they must support the children in the public schools.

The public schools are very over populated and the children to not get the same education that they do in the private schools, this much I know for a fact. They are short on teachers and the schedules are shorter in hours than the private schools meaning they are not in school for as many hours a day.

I’m sure that there are many bright kids that come out of public schools but I feel that the children have a definite advantage if given a private education in Costa Rica.


Schools in Guanacaste

Private schools and a good education are not easy to find in Guanacaste.  There is one school that offers the US Diploma and an American style education and that is Country Day-Guanacaste located in Brasilito, 400 meters south of Paradisus Playa Conchal hotel.  This school opened up in 2000 and is a branch of the larger school located in Escazu.

Tuition for this school pre-k to grade 12, full day is $7,040 per year according to a recent article in the Tico Times.

Teocali School is another school located in Liberia, 2 km north of Burger King.  This school offers classes for pre-k-grade 11 but does not offer the US Diploma.  They say that they teach in English and Spanish.  This normally means that the majority of classes are taught in Spanish and only English class is taught in English.  I have not verified this information as I have been unable to contact the school.

Del Mar Academy is another school that is due to open in September of 2007, located in Nosara, between Playa Pelada and downtown Nosara.  They will teach grades pre-k through grade 12 according to the report I referred to earlier.  Tuition is $6,000 per year.

For more information on these schools or schools in the Central Valley, contact us by email.


Schools in Costa Rica

If you are considering relocating to Costa Rica with school age children, schools will be a main concern and more than likely determine your choice of where to live. There are many choices in the Central Valley, which is rich in educational options, offering anything from mainstream public schools to your American based private institutions.

Living outside the Central Valley or surrounding area will decrease your choices for schools. Public schools are available in most areas but generally offer instruction only to the 9th grade as required by law for children ages 6-14. Some of the larger communities will offer private Montessori or Catholic schools, which offer instruction to the 11th grade and the National Baccalaureate.

Primary education lasts 6 years while high school might be 5 or 6 years depending on the school of your choice and which degree/degrees are offered. There are three types of diplomas offered in Costa Rica and this will vary with each school.

* The Costa Rican Bachillerato Diploma accredited by the Costa Rican Ministry of Education. (MEP) This is the National Baccalaureate/Diploma of Costa Rica.
* The International Baccalaureate Diploma, accredited by the IBO in Geneva, Switzerland.
* USA High School Diploma, accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

Schools in Costa Rica that go beyond the 9th grade are required to offer the Bachillerato de Educación de Diversificada or National Baccalaureate. With this degree the student will take MEP (Ministerio de Educación Publico) testing in the 6th, 9th and 11th grade. This degree allows entrance into University in Costa Rica. With this diploma alone, it is very difficult if not impossible to enter a University in the United States.

The second type offered by the European Schools is the IB or International Baccalaureate. To earn the IB diploma, students must complete and test in six IB subjects; write an extended 4000 word essay of independent research guided by a faculty mentor, complete 150 hours of (CAS) creative, action, and service activities; and participate in a critical thinking course called Theory of Knowledge. The program begins in the 11th grade and is completed in the 12th grade. Entrance into University in the USA, Europe or Latin America is tenable with this degree accredited by the IBO (International Baccalaureate Organization) in Geneva Switzerland.

The third type of degree is the United States Diploma, which will allow entrance into University in the United States or Europe and other parts of the world. You cannot however enter University in Costa Rica with this diploma alone. The United States Diploma is available at all of the American Schools in Costa Rica. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, otherwise known as SACS, accredits all of these schools.

Where the IB is not offered, in the American Schools, many students opt for 2 diplomas to open more doors and allow more opportunity for them when choosing a University. They work for the National Baccalaureate then go onto the 12th grade for the United States Diploma. When this is the case, during the 12th grade many students take AP (Advanced Placement) courses, with passage leading to college credit. In addition, many students are bilingual by this time and are able to test out of foreign language in University by passing the AP Spanish test.

AP courses are offered in most topics from English to Calculus. If interested in Advance Placement Courses, you will need to check with your school of interest to see which courses are available because this too varies from school to school.

Public, Catholic, and some of the private European schools operate on the Costa Rican schedule which runs mid February to the end of November. Schools following the United States curriculum operate on a United States calendar starting the middle of August and finishing in June with a month off for Christmas in December and January.


Our Service

You should know that while you will get a lot of basic information from this blog and from our website, this is in no way a complete assessment of the topic being discussed. We only touch on the subjects that we think would be of interest to someone considering moving to Costa Rica.

Many of the topics that I choose to write about come from questions presented to me by clients. Others are news that’s happening in Costa Rica.

Some things I write about seem kinda fuzzy, immigration for instance.  When the laws are as confusing as they are, I can’t help but sounding a little confused myself on some of the details.

We do know what we are doing when it comes to relocation. Make no mistake about that.  Our service is a paid service and you get what you pay for when it comes to relocation services.  As I said, many of the topics we just touch on but when you come down as one of our clients you learn all the ins and outs of living in Costa Rica.

You will meet attorneys that give you legal advice and assistance on residency, insurance agents that know all about insurance.  We hook you up with the professionals to handle the things that we are not well versed in.

You can learn in one week what it would take you months to learn by working with my company.  If you don’t believe me, read some of our testimonials on our website or ask for references.


Kids out of school for the summer

TaraJon, Sladyn and Ronan are out of school for the summer and driving us nuts. I suppose all parents have the same problem that we are having with trying to keep them entertained. They want to go go go everyday but with John and I both working that is not possible. They have so much energy when they don’t get out they make us crazy by the end of the day. Unfortunately there are not a lot of summer activities in Costa Rica for kids. Since Costa Rican kids are still in school, there are no camps that we can send them to. They don’t really do that here so it’s up to the parents to come up with activities to keep them occupied…this is going to be a long summer. Fortunately for the parents, they are only out for 2 months since they get a month off in December/January. Any suggestions on what to do with them would be appreciated. I’ve run out of ideas.