Education: Uncertain Future Prospects

Low educational quality, obsolete teacher hiring processes and lack of universal application of new educational programs are some of the factors that threaten the future of public education in Costa Rica.

Friday, August 23, 2019

"Education is the movement from darkness to light", said American philosopher Allan Bloom. The results of the most recent report prepared by the State of the Nation Program reveal that in terms of public education, Costa Rica seems to be in darkness.

The 7th State of Education Report, presented on August 21, shows the current situation of public education in the country.

Serious deficiencies in Spanish and Mathematics, teachers' resistance to applying certain study programs and a stagnation in the granting of university degrees since 2009 are only some of the worrying conclusions reached by analysts from the State of the Nation.

Another of the threats to the development of education are strikes, such as the one registered between September 10 and December 7, 2018. According to the investigation, the suspension of the educational service because of the strike directly affected vulnerable households, whose only educational option for their children is the public educational system. For this group, the strike meant a complete interruption of the learning process, and it would be difficult to reverse that impact.

Some of the main conclusions of the document are:

"... In the 2017-2019 period, there was an accelerated expansion in children's access to public preschool education services. However, this expansion is in increasing tension with indicators of the quality of educational services, as important delays and barriers continue to be dragged along in the implementation of the new program approved by the Ministry of Education for this level.

The vast majority of children who attend primary school do so in schools that do not offer the full curriculum. In addition, the quality of teaching in the classroom is far from the parameters required by the MEP in the curricular reforms.

The increase in technical education enrollment, although relevant, was less than non-traditional modalities and remains low when compared to developed countries. The ideological discussions on dual education have not contributed to better articulating the supply and demand of professional technical education.

On the subject of hiring personnel, the report explains that "... the panorama is complex, derived from the impossibility of selecting the best candidates for teaching because of the prevalence of obsolete teacher hiring processes, based on a regulatory legal framework, the fact that most hired teachers have serious weaknesses in their initial training and the offer of MEP training does not help correct the defects of that training, and finally, the absence of formative evaluation processes for in-service teachers, which prevents identifying their weaknesses and establishing support mechanisms for their timely attention.... The joint work between the MEP and the universities to loosen this knot is of strategic importance for the country."

These discouraging results make it necessary to call for reflection and to deeply question the way in which the State each year makes the multimillion-dollar investment in this area.

Download full report here.

More on this topic

Education: More Investment, Better Results?

May 2019

Although Costa Rica invests almost 7% of GDP in education, spending efficiency is some of the worst when compared to other countries globally.

In its 2018 Annual Report, the Comptroller's Office of the Republic of Costa Rica carried out an analysis of the investment made by the State in public education versus the efficiency of spending, which is measured in the development of the skills of the student population.

Poor Technical Training

October 2017

In Costa Rica, "of the 126,000 students graduating with technical qualifications, between 2014 and 2016, the vast majority gained the lowest level qualification."


Figures from the most recent report on the State of Education in Costa Rica, continue to show serious deficiencies in the education system, not only at the technical and university level, but, even worse, in Primary school, where basic concepts that will serve as a foundation for secondary and university education are supposed to be consolidated.

Investing in Primary and Secondary Education and Not University

October 2014

In Costa Rica the 14% increase in funds for state universities has generated discussion even within the sector, over which stages of education produces better results from investment in terms of economic performance and social justice.


The analyst Francisco Villalobos in his article on reports on the data regarding investments made by middle class families in the education of their children, noting that "the budget increase demanded by universities should be directed towards primary and secondary education therefore the state can support families when they most need support. "

The Serious Problems in Education in Panama

February 2013

Companies need to invest time and money in order to cover the serious limitations of graduates from the public school system, which is an obstacle to development.

In Panama the educational problem has already been diagnosed. reports that the country has at least 14 diagnostic and prognostic documents on education, but "none have managed to be implemented completely to produce students with an optimal or acceptable level of knowledge which allows them to have the skills demanded from the labor market. "

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