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Costa Rica Education


Schools, Colleges and Language Education

In 1869, the country became one of the first in the world to make the education both free and obligatory, funded by the state's share of the great coffee wealth. In those days only one in ten Costa Ricans could read and write. By 1920 the 50% of the population was literate and by 1970's, 89% were able to read and write.

If you have small children or teenagers you will be pleased that Costa Rica has a variety of schools to choose from. There are many public schools, numerous private bilingual schools and four English-language, or American schools.  Public schools tend to be crowded but legal foreign residents are entitled to attend public schools. However, since all instruction is in Spanish, you shouldn't even think of enrolling your children in a public school unless they speak, read and write Spanish fluently. If your children are not Spanish speakers you may have to enroll them in a private school. 

Costa Rica's private English-language schools are exceptional, have high academic standards and four are accredited in the U.S.: Lincoln School, Marian Baker School, Country Day School and American International School. Some follow the U.S. school year schedule with vacations in June, July and August. 

There is also the German school- Humboldt- the French school- Franco Costarricense- and the Japanese School- Escuela Japonesa.
Others follow the Latin American academic calendar, in which the school year begins sometime in February and ends in November or December. Changing from the U.S. calendar to one of these schools may require that your children move back half a year and start the grade over. Likewise schools are also free to move students up a half-year if they are academically and mature enough to handle the change. 

These schools are academically oriented and prepare students for admittance to colleges in the U.S. as well as in Costa Rica. They teach English as a primary language and offer Spanish as a second language. In some ways these schools are better than similar institutions in the U.S.A., because not as many harmful distractions or bad influences exist in Costa Rica. Children also have the opportunity to learn a new language which is great value to them. The cost of some of these private schools can be more than $300 per month. 

It is a good idea to visit a number of schools before deciding which one is right for your child. You should ask to visit a couple of classrooms as well as see all of the facilities. This way you may view the schools infrastructure. Make a list of the pros and cons of each school before making your final decision. Don't forget to see if the school is accredited in the U.S. Also find out about the teacher student ratio. Be sure to see what percentage of the students graduate and go on to universities in Costa Rica and the U.S. Finally, try to talk to other foreigners who have children enrolled in private schools to see if they are satisfied with the quality of education their children are receiving.  

We talked with one couple from the U.S. who didn't have the resources to afford a private school so they opted for home schooling. They recommended several programs which you can find on the Internet: http://www.calvertschool.eduhttp://www.unl.eduand

At the Lincoln School in Moravia, all subjects are taught in English except for an hour a day of Spanish. There are special courses of Spanish as a second language for students new to the country and advanced classes for foreign students and Costa Ricans who have mastered the language. Children who move to the country learn to speak fluent Spanish in a couple of years. 

Conversely, Costa Rican children are able to master English in a short period of time. If you listen to the high school students speak English you would think they grew up in the U.S. or Canada. It must be pointed out that, generally, the younger the student, the more quickly a second language can be learned. Junior and senior high school students take much longer to learn a new language than preschool and elementary students. 

The following schools are accredited in the U.S. 

Lincoln School: Pre-kindergarden through grade 12 with classes in English. Tuition about $350 monthly: Apdo. 1919, San José, Costa Rica. Tel: 506- 235-7733; Fax: 506- 236-1706 E-mail:, Follows the Costa Rican academic year. 

American International School: Pre-kindergarten through grade 12. Classes taught in English, U.S. style education. Annual tuition: $1,070 pre-kindergarten, $3,130 per year for kindergarten to grade 12. Apdo. 4941-1000, San José, Costa Rica. Tel: 506- 239-0974; Fax: 239-0625 E-mail:  Follows the U.S. school year. 

Country Day School: Kindergarten through grade 12 in Escazú. Annual tuition: Pre-kindergarten $3,245; grades 1 to 12, $6,510. Apdo. 8-6170, San José, Costa Rica. Tel: 506- 289-8406; Fax: 506-228-2076; Follows the U.S. school year. 

Country Day School Guanacaste: This new branch of the Country Day School offers a curriculum similar to the main campus in Escazú. Since the school is located near Flamingo a surfing class in available for high school students. All subjects are taught in English except for Spanish. Future boarding facilities are being considered. Tel: 506 654-5042, Fax: 506 654-5044, E-mail;,

Marian Baker School: Kindergarten through grade 12. U.S. curriculum with classes in English. Annual tuition: Kindergarten, $3,550; preparatory to grade 6, grades 7 - 12, $6,610. Apdo. 4269, San José, Costa Rica, Tel: 506- 273-3426; Fax: 506- 234-4609; E-mail:;  Follows the U.S. school year. 

The less expensive bilingual private schools below also prepare students for U.S. colleges and universities but follow the Costa Rican academic year.

Anglo American School: Kindergarten through grade 6. Costs about $100 a month. Apdo. 3188-1000, San José, Costa Rica. Tel: 506-225-1723. 

Blue Valley School: Preschool to grade 12. Tel: 506-289-8653;Fax: 506-228-8653; E-mail:

Canadian International School: Pre-kindergarten through grade 2. About $100 monthly. Apdo. 622-2300. San José, Costa Rica. Tel: 506-272-7097; Fax: 506-272-6634.  

Colegio Bilingue Santa Cecilia: Preschool to grade 11. Tel: 506-237-7733; Fax: 506-237-4557;

Colegio Humboldt: Kindergarten through grade 12. Classes half in German, half in Spanish. Tuition is about $70 monthly. Apdo. 3749, San José, Costa Rica. Tel: 506- 232-1455; Fax: 506-232-0093; E-mail: 

Colegio Internacional SEK: Grades 7 through 10. Apdo. 963, 2050 San Pedro, Costa Rica. Tel: 506- 224-3136 Fax: 506- 253-9762;;

Colegio Metodista: Kindergarten through grade 12. Classes in English and Spanish. Apdo. 931-1000, San José, Costa Rica. Tel: 506- 225-0655 Fax: 506-225-0621.

Escuela Británica: Kindergarten through grade 11, classes half in English, half in Spanish. $150 per month. Apdo. 8184-1000 San José, Costa Rica. Tel: 506- 220-0131 Fax: 506-232-7833;; 

The European School: Pre-kindergarten through 6. Apdo. 177, Heredia, Costa Rica. Tel: 506- 261-0717; Fax: 506- 261-0718, E-mail:

Kiwi Kinder: Pre-school for two and a half to five-year olds. Apdo. 549-6150, Santa Ana, Costa Rica. Tel: 506-282-6512; Fax: 506-282-4319;;

Liceo Franco-Costarricense: Classes in French, English and Spanish. Concepción de Tres Ríos. Tel: 506- 279-6616; Fax: 506-279-6615;, 

International Christian School: Pre-kindergarten through grade 12. Annual tuition: Pre-kindergarten, $990; Preparatory and kindergarten, $1,300; Grades 1 - 6, $2,200; Grades 7 - 8, $2,300; Grades 9 - 12, $2,500. Apdo. 3512-1000, San José, Costa Rica. Tel: 506-236-7879 Fax: 506-235-1518. 

Saint Anthony School: Pre-school through grade 6. Classes half in English, half in Spanish. Apdo. 29-2150, Moravia, Costa Rica. Tel: 235-1017; Fax: 506-235-2325; 

Saint Claire: Grades 7 - 10, classes in English and in Spanish. Tuition $125 per month. Apdo. 53-2150, Moravia, Costa Rica, Tel: 506- 235-7244. 

Saint Francis: Kindergarten through grade 11, classes in English and Spanish. Inquire about rates. Apdo. 4405-1000, San José Costa Rica. Tel: 506- 297-1704 Fax: 240-9672 E-mail:

Saint Joseph's Primary School: Pre-school through grade 6, classes half in Spanish, half in English, $70 per month. Apdo. 132-2150, Moravia, Costa Rica. Tel: 506- 235-7214. 

Saint Mary's: Pre- kindergarten through Grade 6, around $100 monthly. Classes in English, and Spanish. Apdo. 229-1250, Escazu, Costa Rica. Tel: 506- 228-2003.

Santa Monica Primary School: Pre-kindergarten to grade 6. Classes in English and Spanish for around $80 a month. Apdo. 53-2150, Moravia, Costa Rica. Tel: 506- 228-0349.

Saint Peter's Primary School: Pre-kindergarten to grade 6. Classes in English and Spanish for about $75 monthly. Apdo. 302-2100, Curridabat, Costa Rica. Tel/Fax: 506- 272-2045; E-mail:

Summerhill Latinoamericano: Pre-school, elementary school and weekend camp programs. Tel: 506-280-1933, Fax: 506-283-0146. 

Elementary Schools, High Schools and Kindergartens: 

Colegio La Salle (elementary school and high school). -

Kinder Ideal (kindergarten). -

Escuela Tamarindo - Founded in 1988 by a small group of parents. Started as a kindergarden it has over the years expanded to include up to 6th grade. Classes are conducted in English with a US curriculum. Tamarindo Beach, Guanacaste. -

The Carbonera School - The Carbonera School is located on the Osa Península in Southwestern Costa Rica. -

UNO-Costa Rica - Costa Rica. A variety of credit courses dealing with the history, geography, culture, ecology, biology, and language of Central America -

Johnson Scientific High School 225 Sur y 75 Se de Pollos Campero en Guadalupe, San José, San José, 13337, Costa Rica Toll Free: +(506) 394-6655 Tel: +(506) 222-4413 Fax: +(506) 222-4300
Contact: Carlos Soto Johnson, Presidente 
Description: Enseñanza Bilingue en Preescolar Primaria Secundaria Español para extranjeros 

The Cloud Forest School, locally known as the Centro de Educación Creativa, is an innovative, private, bilingual school located in the tropical cloud forest of Monteverde, Costa Rica.

Tamarindo School - A bilingual elementary school in Tamarindo Beach. -

Language Schools:

Amerispan -
Astra Languages School - 
COSI Costa Rica Spanish Institute - 
Costa Rican Language Academy and Latin Dance School - 
CPI -  
D'Amore - 
Escuela de Español Dalfa -  
Escuela Latina de Lenguas Costa Rica - 
ICADS : A Progressive Educational Experience - 
ICAI Central American Institute for International Affairs -  
IEE- Universidad Veritas - 
ILC The International Language Center - 
Instituto Costarricense de Cultura y Lenguaje - 
Instituto Guanacasteco - 
Intensa Spanish School Costa Rica - 
Intercultura - 
IPED -  
IPEE Costa Rica Offers 7 different levels of Spanish classes and a teachers course in methodology - 
Mesoamerica Language Program - 
Rancho de Español - 
Spanish Abroad Inc - 

Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza -  
Escuela de Matemáticas UCR -  
Instituto Centroamericano de Administración de Empresas -  
Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica - 
POLIUNA Laboratorio de Investigación y Tecnología de Polímeros de la Universidad Nacional. - 
UACA Universidad Autónoma de Centro América. - 
Universidad Central -  
Universidad de Costa Rica - 
Universidad de San José -  
Universidad Estatal a Distancia - 
Universidad Internacional de las Américas - 
Universidad Latinoamericana de Ciencia y Tecnología -  
University of Tropical Field Ecology. - 



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