Continuing Education in Costa Rica


Continuing Education in Costa Rica

by Christine Krishnan, Community Outreach

Many people are curious about what Costa Rica is like before they come to visit. One of the questions we get the most is: "I don't speak Spanish. Will it be hard for me to communicate with the locals in Costa Rica?"

Would you like to stay in Costa Rica to learn Spanish, try learning new adventures, take some surf lessons or take a Costa Rica cooking class? You, too, can get some continuing education in Costa Rica.

In fact, it is no secret Costa Rica has one of the highest literacy rates in all of Latin America and a large percentage of all students graduate from high school. It's no surprise that major international companies have factories and call centers here such as Amazon, Intel, Bridgestone, Hewlett Packard and numerous others.

Costa Rica takes its education very seriously. Since Costa Rica does not have a military, much of the resources ordinarily dedicated to warfare in other countries is spent on the schools and giving Costa Ricans continuing education opportunities.

As an example, there is an elementary school near La Fortuna at the base of the Arenal Volcano that offers a completely bilingual education, as well as a hands-on education for the kids learning about agriculture. The school has a small, on-site farm where the kids in the school grow their own fruits and vegetables, raise cattle and goats for milk and cheese and chickens for eggs. What's left over gets taken to a local market by the students to raise money for school field trips and other school projects.

Not only do the students get educated about raising good, healthy food, but they have to learn to manage their funds and utilize their leadership skills to delegate tasks on the farm.

"My teachers love when they get to send their kids outside to help on our farm," explains the innovative school director Eulyn Chacon of the San Francisco school.

"It often calms down the hyper children and teaches good discipline. Plus they learn long term practical life skills." Chacon has been the director for over fifteen years and still has a positive, enthusiastic approach to her school after all these years and is active in getting the parents involved every step of the way.

Education is the key and Costa Rica even invented the National Institute of Learning (INA) to teach trades and skills to adults. INA provides free courses on everything from auto mechanics to English to hotel management and everything else in between.

Desafío Adventure Company was chosen as the first private tourism company to join forces with INA to develop an Adventure Academy to train Adventure Guides in leadership, geography, history, first-aid and safety and more.

Aside from adventure training, our staff has also taken the opportunity to continue their education on their own. Carlos Oviedo, manager of the Finance Department of Desafío developed an after-hours class on the use of the Excel program.

"That's one of the things I like most about working at Desafío - there are always opportunities for us to grow professionally," explains Onel, who started out with a machete in his hand doing maintenance in the Lost Canyon and now manages the guide staff and equipment of the various Desafío warehouses. "This Excel workshop with Carlos has been a big help for me. I'm so glad he took some extra time out of his schedule to help us out."

Costa Rica also has a good reputation for its advanced education, as well. Earth University receives students on scholarships from all over the world to learn about sustainable agriculture and INCAE is a world famous business school with visiting professors from the Harvard School of Business.

Costa Rica is also a hot destination to come and teach English. In fact, there is a unique teacher training facility called Centro Espiral Mana also near the Arenal Volcano that teaches and certifies both new and experienced English teachers. Founder and director Mary Scholl gets international funding to train teachers from all over the world.

"Our live-on campus is truly one of a kind. Our teachers not only hone in on their skills of teaching English, but we also work on their general communication abilities and personal awareness which supports their ability to create truly learning-centered experiences for their learners," said Scholl.

"They get to live, eat, breathe, learn, create and grow together during their time at our school."

So, given the emphasis on education in Costa Rica, you shouldn't be afraid to be able to get around and communicate with the locals - in fact, you may even learn something new.

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