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Public and Private Schools

You may be familiar with the quote: Costa Rica has more teachers than policemen! This affirmation is certainly true, and Costa Ricans feel that their high level of education sets them apart from many other Latin Countries, indeed, some find education here is better than in some developed countries that have much to learn from this little Central American nation.

Costa Rica has a history of leaders who were also teachers, and they have grown through many efforts to show emphasize the importance of a good education to help them raise and growth of a country. This has resulted in the expansion of primary and secondary education in Costa Rica even in the most remote regions, and in the smallest towns. With many reforms, this whole attitude secured Costa Rica with a 93% literacy level and as one of the best-educated country nations in Latin America.

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

The Costa Rican Bachillerato Diploma is accredited by the Costa Rican Ministry of Education. (MEP) This is the National Baccalaureate/Diploma of Costa Rica. For more information regarding the real estate contact Karen Real Estate.

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)
The Public Schools that go beyond the 9th grade must offer the National Baccalaureate. The students first take the MEP (Ministerio de Educación Publico) testing in the 6th, 9th, and finally the 11th grade that allows them to enter into the Costa Rican Universities; you must be aware that this diploma alone makes it very difficult, voir impossible, to enter a University in the United States.

The second type offered is the IB or International Baccalaureate. This is a very nice program that demands lots of work and dedication on the part of both students and teachers. 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 universities in the United States or Europe and other parts of the world. Note that 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.

Public Schools:

All High Schools in Costa Rica include compulsory subjects while also offering someelective ones; students must all take math, science, foreign language (usually English) social studies and Spanish language.

A  normal  school  day  starts  at  7:00am  and  can  finish
between 1:00 and  4:00pm.   Costa Rica  is  proud to offer one  of  the  best  educational  systems  in  Latin  America; even the smallest towns  having  their  own  high  school.   Usually students here are very dedicated and take their education very seriously. There are few discipline issues.
Elementary and High Schools are found in every town however small. The students do not have to pay for their education, apart from a nominal charge of $20 at the beginning of each academic year.

In Costa Rica Elementary  Schools  have  6  year  levels and high schools  have  5  year  levels.    Each level is  divided  in two  cycles, and  upon  completion of these cycle,  the students are  required  to  pass  tests  on  all  subjects  studied during  those  years.   The  most  important of  these  tests are  the  Bachillerato  Tests,  which  are  required  to  get  the  high  school  diploma  needed  for  admission  to Universities.

Most community groups also offer opportunities to do sport and to study music, art,  ecology, and many other interests. At the end of High School, each student receives a title in the Arts or in Science

This strategy affects  all  public  schools, however there  are  some private  grammar  schools and high  schools that have adopted either the American or  the European educational system. The Ministry of Education is responsible for the regulation of the education in the country.

The students of public schools are all required to wear the blue and navy uniform, this is too lessen the social and economic distinctions between the students. Most private school have adopted the blue uniform.

Former president Figueres declared that the teachings of English and Computer science be mandatory in Costa Rica. This meant a huge expense on the part of the government, and the training of over 500 educators.

Private Schools:
There are several North American schools in this country, including:
The Marian Baker School, the Country Day School, the International
Christian School, the British School, and several others. For those of German descent, the Humbolt school offers excellent German education, and the Franco will immerse the student in the French language, educational system and culture.

This massive explosion of private schools in Costa Rica has actually helped public schools being less crowded while providing more choice and an alternative education for those who can afford the cost.

American International School Pre-K – 12th Grade
This is a School of 214 students located in Cariari, Heredia. Classes are taught in English only and the school follows the United States calendar and curriculum. English (ESL) and Spanish (SSL) as second languages are both offered for an additional monthly fee. What distinguishes the AIS from other international schools is its family-oriented environment, and the acceptance of all siblings including those who require special needs. Two diplomas are offered at AIS, the National Baccalaureate (MEP) and the United States Diploma.
Contact information:
•    Telephone: 506-2293-2567 / 506-2293-2567
•    Fax: 506-2239-0625
•    Director: Charles Prince
•    Email: ais@aiscr.com
•    Website: www.aiscr.com

Blue Valley School Pre-K – 12th Grade
This is a School of 670 students and it is located in Escazu close to Multiplaza. Classes are taught in English, and Spanish is offered at an additional fee with private tutors. What distinguishes Blue Valley from other international schools is that they run on both the Costa Rican and the United States calendar. This school does not offer the United States Diploma but the prestigious IB (International Baccalaureate) and the MEP (National Baccalaureate)..
Contact Information:
•    Telephone: 506-2215-2203/506-2215-2203
•    Director: Marie Gutiewirez
•    Fax: 506-2215-2205
•    Website: webmaster@bluevalley.ed.cr
•    Email: mail@bluevalley.ed.cr

British School Pre-K – 12th Grade
This School has 900 students is it located in Rhormoser and operates on the Costa Rican calendar. Classes are taught in English; however, ESL and SSL are offered only at the primary level. Eighty five percent of the students are Costa Ricans while the remainder is made up students from many other nations in Latin America, the US, Europe, etc. What distinguish the British School are the International Primary Curriculum, the (IB) International Baccalaureate and the International Certificate of Education..

Contact Information:
•    Telephone: 506-2220-0131/ 506-2220 0131
•    Director: Prevor Davis
•    Fax: 506-2232-7833
•    Website: www.bscr.ed.cr
•    Email:british@racsa.co.cr

Country Day School Pre-K – 12th Grade
This is a School of 860 students located in the hills of Escazu, which operates on the United States calendar with a United States curriculum. Classes are taught in English; ESL (English as a second language) is not offered and children that do not speak fluent English are not accepted. On the other hand, this is one of the most prestigious schools in Costa Rica. CDS offers the National Baccalaureate as well as the United States Diploma. Country Day also has a school in Brasilito near Tamarindo in Guanacaste.

Contact Information:
•    Telephone: 506-2289-0919 / 506-2289-0919
•    Director: Dr. Gloria Doll
•    Fax: 506-2228-2076
•    Principal: Mr. Harry Grzelewski
•    Email: Gloria_doll@cds.ed.cr

Country Day School Guanacaste Pre-K – 12th Grade
This is a branch of the Country Day School,  and it offers a similar curriculum than the one in Escazu. All subjects are taught in English except Spanish.
Contact Information:
•    Telephone: 506-2289-0919 / 506-2289-0919
•    Guanacaste Operations Director: Patrick Brown patrick_brown@cds.ed.cr
•    Telephone: 506 2654-5042 / 506 2654-5042
•    Fax: 506 2654-5044
•    E-mail: info_cdsg@cds.ed.cr  Website: http://www.cdsgte.com/

European School Pre-K – 12th Grade
This is a School of 490 students located in San Pablo de Heredia. It follows its own calendar based on the European one from late July to June, breaking every nine to ten weeks for short vacations. Classes are taught in English only and children that do not speak English are not accepted. Both the IB (International Baccalaureate) and the National Baccalaureate are offered at the European School.
Contact Information:
•    Telephone: 506-2261-0717/506-2261-0717
•    Director: Anne Aiomson
•    Fax: 506-2263-5793
•    Website: www.europeanschool.com
•    Email: info@europeanschool.com

Falcon International Pre-K – 12th Grade
This smaller International school located on the Pacific Coast just across from Los Suenos, Herradura,  and is just one hour from the central valley.  It follows the US calendar has a student count of 100 with a student ratio of 8/1. Technology and environmental awareness are integrated at all levels of the educational process. FIS is the only school in CR that applies Measurement of Academic Performance Testing. This school also provides education and care for children with special needs. In addition to the US Diploma and the CR Diploma offered at this school, every student will be Microsoft Certified upon graduation.
Contact Information:
•    Telephone: 506-2637-7400 506-2637-7400
•    Director: Dr. Edwin Arrieta
•    Email: admin@falconicr.com
•    CIEO: Martha I Felhofer
•    Website: www.falconicr.com

Humboldt School Pre-K – 12th Grade
Located in Rohrmoser with approximately 750 students. Classes are taught in German, English and Spanish. If you are not of German decent, you will not be accepted into this school.
Contact Information:
•    Telephone: 506-2232-1455/  506-2232-1455
•    Fax 506-2232-0093
•    Wbsite:  http://www.humboldt.ed.cr/

International Christian School Pre-K – 12th Grade
Located in San Miguel, Santo Domingo de Heredia. This school operates on the United States calendar year and curriculum. With 488 students, ICS is a multi-national school teaching in English. What distinguishes this school from others is that it offers Bible classes as being a part of the curriculum. ICS has both ESL and SSL program, and offers both the United States Diploma and National Baccalaureate.
Contact Information:
•    Telephone: 506-2241-1445 506-2241-1445
•    Director/Owner: William Tabor
•    Email: aulavirtual@icsostarica.org
•    Principals: Mike & David Tabor
•    Website: www.icscr.net

Liceo Franco –  Costarricense Pre-K – 11th Grade
Location in Concepción de Tres Ríos.  French, English and Spanish. Total immersion, classes are all in French, this school offers the French Curriculum –Baccalaureat. Not only do the students become 100% fluent in the French language, they also really learn about the French culture, while also learning excellent English and Spanish.
Contact Information:
•    Telephone: 506- 279-6616 506/506-279-6616
•    Director gilles.lestruhaut@franco.ed.cr
•    Email:  secretaria@franco.ed.cr
•    Website:  http://franco.ed.cr

Lincoln School Pre-K – 12th Grade
This is the largest private school in Costa Rica with 1100 children enrolled, and it is located in the mountains of Moravia  just outside of San Jose. Classes are taught in English, it follows the United States curriculum and calendar. ESL & SSL are also offered and are in  addition to the regular schedule. This is the only school in Costa Rica that offers all three diplomas, the International Baccalaureate, the United States Diploma and National Baccalaureate..
Contact Information:
•    Telephone: 506-2247-6600/ 506-2247-6600
•    Director: Jack Bimrose
•    Fax: 506-247-6700
•    Principal: Charles Prince
•    Email: director@lincoln.ed.cr
•    Website: www.lincoln.ed.cr

Marian Baker Pre-K – 12th Grade
Smaller school of 211 students that is located in San Ramon de Trios, between San Jose and Cartago. This school offers a United States and Costa Rica based curriculum and follows the United States calendar. Classes are taught in English only however ESL and SSL are taught for those that whose level of English is lower. Because of its smaller size this school provides more personalized attention for each student. Marian Baker Schools offers both the United States Diploma and National Baccalaureate.
Contact Information:
•    Telephone: 506-2273-0024/506-2273-0024
•    Director: Linda Niehaus
•    Fax: 506-2273-4609
•    Principal: Judy Crook
•    Email: Website: www.marianbakerschool.com

Pan American School Pre-K – 11th Grade

This is a school of 600 students and it located in San Antonio de Belen, near Santa Ana on Lindora, and it operates on the Costa Rican calendar with the Costa Rican Curriculum. Classes are taught both in English and in Spanish. This is the only school on the list that does not go to the 12th grade; classes go up to the 11th grade when it finishes with the National Baccalaureate. This school is very popular in the Central Valley because of the excellence of the education and of its teachers.
Contact Information:
•    Telephone: 506-2293-7393 / 506-2293-7393
•    Director-Alegria Lores
•    Fax: 506-2293-7392
•    Website: www.panam.ed.cr
•    Email: info@panam.ed.cr

The Monteverde Friends School, Monteverde, Costa Rica  K-12th Grade
For those who live far from the city, this school is really wonderful: Nestled in the cloud forest community of Monteverde, the Monteverde Friends School was originally founded over 50 years ago by the Quakers who had  left the US in search of a better and more satisfying life, and settled in this country where they formed community that went along with their peaceful principles. This school today continues to promote the universal values of peace, love and respect in the context of a challenging bilingual education and a strong sense of community and awareness.
Contact Information:
•    Telephone: 506-2645-5302/506-2645-5302
•    Email: mfschool@racsa.co.cr
•    website: http://www.mfschool.org

This is just a small list of the many schools available in Costa Rica, but it certainly underlines the ones we feel are the best to choose from. The teachers who come to work in these schools are usually dedicated to their work and to their students and are chosen carefully for their academic credentials. The schools themselves are all located in good and pleasant locations and are built with the well being of both students and teachers in mind.


Karen Ebanks

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