High School and College Graduation Rates in Costa Rica

A friend in Costa Rica asked me to address the college and high school graduation rate. Here is what I found out:

There are 4 public universities + a newly opened technical university. There are 54 private universities but most students prefer the private universities because of price and prestige.  Only 40 percent of Costa Ricans have a high school degree. (That is where part of the problem begins.) And even though Cost Rica spends 30 percent of its GDP on education, the country has a 73% HS enrollment rate.  While Costa  Rica is more developed than many of its neighbors,  Venezuela has a 85 percent HS enrollment rate, Panama 79.7 percent and El Salvador, 74 percent.

Only 5 percent of Costa Rican’s ‘s get a college degree after 5 or 6 years.  That is from students who have graduated from high school.  When measured against ROI (return on investment) , it is not good.

I suggested a root cause analysis about why students are leaving before graduation.  Is it because the costs are too high, poor grades, separation anxiety from home and families, poor preparation, college teacher’s attitudes, or what?  That is best done on the ground and it is difficult for me to answer without interviewing students, faculty, staff.  Here is where the use of information technology would help.  Using computers, surveys could be developed to query students, parents, teachers and administrators.

The study of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) will be the essential component in job creation in the 21st century and most of the jobs will be in that field.  I was amazed when I delivered a workshop in Israel to see what the Israelis are focusing on. It is not on manufacturing but rather on jobs that use technology.