The Educational System of Costa Rica
Costa Rica has had a long tradition of supporting education. By1869, mandatory primary education was decreed by the government and the cost of the education to be covered by the State.
The first public school in Costa Rica was the “Colegio de San Luis Gonzaga” in the city of Cartago, which became operational in 1869. The focus on higher education at the university level lagged until President Rafael Angel Calderón Guardia created the University of Costa Rica in 1941.
Constitutional Guarantee to Education
The Costa Rican Constitution was amended in 1949 to include Title VII, which guaranteed free access to primary and secondary education making access to basic education a fundamental right for Costa Rican citizens. In 1957, Congress approved the Fundamental Law of Education which established the guidelines, goals and objective for the future of the Costa Rican educational system.
The Department of Education
The Ministry of Public Education (MEP – Ministerio de Educación Pública) is charged with the administration of the Costa Rica educational system. It oversees the public educational system and licenses private educational systems. This emphasis on education has translated into a literacy rate for Costa Ricans of 96%, which is above the average for Central America & the Caribbean (87.2%) as well as above the average for South America (90.8%).