Education & Health Care

IMG_5021In 1949, when the army was abolished, the Costa Rican government pledged that the “army would be replaced with an army of teachers”. In Costa Rica universal public education is assured in the constitution, and to this day literacy, with a historical rate of 94.9%, Costa Rica continues to have one of the highest rates in Latin America.

Elementary and high schools are found throughout the country, in nearly every community. Primary education is mandatory, and both preschool and high school are free of charge for residents. In Costa Ballena there is a mix of both private and public primary schools. For those who wish to acquire accreditation of high school programs in the country of origin, one must consult with their local school representatives as equivalencies can be given or special exams can be taken.

For post secondary education, again both public and private universities are found throughout the country. The University of Costa Rica has been awarded the title “Meritorious Institution of Costa Rican Education and Culture” and is held in high regard. In recent years, many private universities and colleges have consolidated because of the demand for higher education, which exceeds availability provided by the public sector.

Costa Rica also boasts one of the best health care systems in Latin America and with medical tourism on the rise; Costa Rica is a league above the rest when it comes to quality, affordability and access. Travellers need not worry about Malaria vaccines, and communication with medical professionals is rather easy as many doctors, especially in private practice, received training in Europe, Canada, or the U.S. and therefore speak English.

Most people have access to universal health care, which means that people do not hesitate to visit the doctor when needed. The system covers everything from dentistry, to maternity care, to open-heart surgery. Today, its healthcare system is ranked higher than that of the United States, despite having a fraction of its GDP*, and overall, health care costs are about a third to a fifth of what you would pay in the U.S. and drug costs are less expensive, as a general rule, as compared to North America.


* Jacob, Brian (2009). “CLOSING THE GAPS: The Challenge to Protect Costa Rica’s Health Care System”.

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