Education in Costa Rica

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Education in Costa Rica is divided in 3 cycles: pre-education (before age 7), primary education (from 6-7 to 12-13), and secondary school (from 12-13 to 17-18), which leads to higher education. School year starts between the second and third week of February, stops at the last week of June, it continues again between the third and fourth week of July and finishes between the last week of November (private kindergartens, schools and high schools) and the second week of December (public kindergartens, schools and high schools). Preschool and basic education are free to the public. [1] Elementary and secondary school are both divided in two cycles. [2] Since 1869, education is free and compulsory (article 78 of the constitution).


Costa Rica's education system is ranked 20th in the "Global Competitiveness Report 2013–14", and is described as of "high quality". [3] The literacy rate in Costa Rica is 94.9%. [4] It is 2 points over the average for Latin American and Caribbean countries. [5]

Primary education

The primary education lasts six years and is divided in three cycles. The uniform is obligatory, in order to reduce social and economic distinctions. [6]

Secondary education

The secondary education comprises two cycles. The first cycle is dedicated to general education (three years). The second cycle, while keeping a core curriculum, implies a specialization (two years for academic; three years for technical). Specializations can be academic or technical (agricultural, industrial, commercial, secretarial, accounting, crafts, family and social education). [7]

The third cycle ends with the "Bachillerato", granting access to higher Education. Nonetheless, many universities have their own entrance examination. [8]


There are five public universities in Costa Rica:

Public universities offer degree programs according to their specialty and by law, and manage their own central and regional campus. By Costa Rican law, two different public universities may not offer the same degree program.

The public universities publish a number of journals where students and academics can publish their research, and access international research publications freely. Some of these journals are:

There are also several private universities:

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  1. "Costa Rica 1949 (rev. 2011)". Constitute. Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  2. "World data on Education, UNESCO-IBE(2010-11)" (PDF).
  3. "p54, Global competitiveness Report 2013-2014" (PDF).
  4. "The World Factbook — Central Intelligence Agency".
  5. "UNESCO UIS" (PDF).
  6. Alonso. "Costa Rican Education System".
  7. "UNESCO-UNEVOC World TVET Database".
  8. "Education in Costa Rica".