Since 1869, public education in Costa Rica has been free and mandatory. The educational system is ranked 32nd in the world, the highest in Latin America with a 96% Literacy rate. Literacy is defined as the total percentage of the population age 15 and above who can, with understanding, read and write a short, simple statement on their everyday life. Generally, ‘literacy’ also encompasses ‘numeracy’, the ability to make simple arithmetic calculations. There are more than 9,300 educational institutions in Costa Rica in addition to over 200 private schools registered with the Ministry of Education, most of them are bilingual (English, German, French or Hebrew), that offer worldwide recognized programs such as the Advanced Placement (AP) and the International Baccalaureate (IB). There are also over 50 universities in Costa Rica, two of the most well known are the University of Costa Rica and the National University. Costa Rica is known for not only its natural beauty but also for its highly educated work force. This makes finding educated, motivated employees that much easier when doing business here.
Right now, my son, Charlito is learning to read with the traditional Costa Rican first grade text Paco y Lola. In Jaco we are blessed with various resources that encourage literacy and a love of learning. The Jaco library and Learning Center (Biblioteca de Jaco) is located in the corner between The Patio and Century 21 and is open Tues-Sat 11am-5pm. Our community library is a lending library, unlike many in Costa Rica, books may be checked out for up to 2 weeks at a time with possible renewal. The library has resources in many languages and also provides weekly activities. One such activity is Art & Science classes that occur every Friday afternoon at 4pm.
On Thursday afternoons Yoga on the beach is sponsored by the library and is open to both children and their parents. With help from volunteers, the library visits local schools to promote literacy and engage with the students through reading activities and art projects. They hope that by reaching out, interest in the local library and its available activities will grow. Services and book check out are available to all community members. In addition we have the local book exchange, Books & Stuff, which is located at the Commercial Center Ureña next to Tattoo House. You can exchange books or buy new and used books. It is a great resource for both locals and their children, as well as tourists looking for a good read while relaxing on the beach.