By Claire Wallerstein
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Extra resources for CultureShock! Costa Rica: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette
34 CultureShock! Costa Rica Education is a prized asset and children use all means to get to school. EDUCATION AND LITERACY Even in the days when they had a military, Ticos used to boast that they had more schoolteachers than soldiers. In what used to be a poverty-stricken rural backwater, it is understandable that the country’s high standards of schooling are a source of enormous national pride. With foregone military budgets funding the massive education system, the only armies these days are hordes of neatly-uniformed schoolchildren on their way to and from school—one of the most ubiquitous images of Costa Rica.
Despite efforts to provide a standard level of nationwide education, many rural schools are poorly equipped. Most teachers would rather work in the cities than farﬂung rural backwaters, increasing still further the gulf between education standards in urban and rural areas. The curriculum (like much else in Costa Rica) is centrally controlled, meaning little provision is made for the different history, culture, and circumstances of indigenous and AfroCaribbean children. According to the Biesanzes in The Ticos, per capita funding for education fell by 35 per cent in the 1980s alone and a 1994 United Nations survey revealed the country now actually invests less money per capita in education than most other Latin American countries.
In the 2006 elections, former president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Oscar Arias Sánchez of PLN won the presidency a second time. 2 per cent. Solís does not belong to the PUSC, the PLN’s traditional rival, but is a member of the Citizen Action Party (PAC). Arias’ victory was conﬁrmed after a manual re-count gave him the lead by 18,169 votes. Costa Rica’s latest election has proved to be just as exciting. In early 2010, the country elected its ﬁrst female president, Laura Chinchilla (PLN), who had served as vice-president under Oscar Arias.