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Costa Rica
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Diagram of the education system

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  • Diagram of education system in country language


  • General methodological notes for ISCED diagrams


  • Education system in Costa Rica

    Costa Rica
    Overview of the education system (EAG 2020)
  • On average, 32% of all upper secondary students enrol in VET programmes in Costa Rica, a lower proportion than the OECD average of 42%.
  • In 2019, 31% of 25-34 year-olds had a tertiary degree in Costa Rica compared to 45% on average across OECD countries.
  • In Costa Rica, in 2018, 25-64 year-olds with a tertiary degree with income from full-time, full-year employment earned 100% more than full-time, full-year workers with upper secondary education compared to 54% on average across OECD countries.
  • In 2018, 60% of 3-5 year-olds were enrolled in early childhood education and care programmes and primary education in Costa Rica, compared to 88% on average across OECD countries.
  • Statutory salaries of teachers with maximum qualifications at the top of their salary scales are 173% - 175% higher than those of teachers with the minimum qualifications at the start of their career at pre-primary (ISCED 02), primary and general lower and upper secondary levels in Costa Rica compared to 78-80% on average.
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    The following list displays indicators for which your selected country shows the highest and lowest values among countries. The list can be sorted by level of education or by age group. All rankings are calculated including available data from OECD and partner countries. Find out more about the methodology here.

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    Educational outcomes

    The proportion of 25-64 year-olds who have attained a vocational upper secondary or post-secondary qualification is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (1.6 %, rank 34/34 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The proportion of 25-64 year-old men who have attained a vocational degree at the upper secondary or post-secondary level is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (1.7 %, rank 34/34 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The proportion of 25-64 year-old women who have attained a vocational degree at the upper secondary or post-secondary level is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (1.6 %, rank 34/34 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The proportion of 25-64 year-olds who attained a doctoral or equivalent tertiary education degree is one of the lowest among countries with available data. (0.1 %, rank 34/36 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The proportion of 25-34 year-olds who have attained a vocational degree at the upper secondary or post-secondary level is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (2 %, rank 33/34 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The proportion of 55-64 year-olds who have attained a vocational degree at the upper secondary or post-secondary level is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (1 %, rank 34/34 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Attainment by gender

    Costa Rica has one of the largest share of women among 25-34 year-olds with a vocational upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education. (51.3 %, rank 2/34 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Costa Rica has one of the smallest share of women among 55-64 year-olds with a vocational upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education. (39.9 %, rank 30/34 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Attainment by field of education

    The percentage of 25-64 year-olds with tertiary education who studied in the field of arts is one of the lowest among OECD countries and partner economies with available data. (2.4 %, rank 14/17 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The percentage of 25-64 year-olds with tertiary education who studied in the field of arts and humanities, social sciences, journalism and information is one of the lowest among OECD countries and partner economies with available data. (10.2 %, rank 31/32 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The percentage of 25-64 year-olds with tertiary education who studied in the field of business, administration and law is one of the highest among OECD countries and partner economies with available data. (35.2 %, rank 2/32 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The percentage of 25-64 year-olds with tertiary education who studied in the field of natural sciences, mathematics and statistics is one of the lowest among OECD countries and partner economies with available data. (2.1 %, rank 31/32 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The percentage of 25-64 year-olds with tertiary education who studied in the field of engineering, manufacturing and construction is one of the lowest among OECD countries and partner economies with available data. (10.1 %, rank 30/32 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Participation in education

    The enrolment rate of 6-14 year-olds in Costa Rica is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (95.1 %, rank 40/43 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The percentage of three-year-olds in early childhood education in Costa Rica is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (5.6 %, rank 39/41 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The share of students enrolled in programmes providing full completion and access to tertiary education among all students enrolled in upper secondary vocational programmes is one of the largest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (100 %, rank 1/33 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Graduation expectancy

    In Costa Rica, the percentage of today's young people expected to graduate from upper secondary education before turning 25 is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (44 %, rank 34/35 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Graduation by gender

    In Costa Rica, the share of female doctoral graduates in the field of business, administration and law is relatively low. (18.2 %, rank 41/43 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Graduation by field of education

    The percentage of tertiary graduates in the field of arts and humanities is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (3.1 %, rank 41/43 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The percentage of tertiary graduates in the field of social sciences, journalism and information is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (5.7 %, rank 40/43 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The percentage of tertiary graduates in the field of business, administration and law is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (36.7 %, rank 3/43 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The percentage of tertiary graduates in the field of natural sciences, mathematics and statistics is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (2.4 %, rank 39/43 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The percentage of tertiary graduates in the field of engineering, manufacturing and construction is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (7.5 %, rank 41/43 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The share of doctoral graduates in the field of arts and humaties in Costa Rica is relatively small. (0.9 %, rank 44/45 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The share of doctoral graduates in the field of Natural sciences, mathematics and statistics in Costa Rica is relatively small. (11.1 %, rank 42/45 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The share of doctoral graduates in the field of information and communication technologies in Costa Rica is relatively small. (0 %, rank 42/44 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The share of doctoral graduates in the field of engineering, manufacturing and construction in Costa Rica is relatively small. (0 %, rank 45/45 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The share of doctoral graduates in the field of health and welfare in Costa Rica is relatively small. (0 %, rank 44/45 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Resources for education

    Compared to 2015, total governement expenditure is relatively high. (144 Index, rank 1/46 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Expenditure in education and national wealth

    In Costa Rica, public expenditure on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP on primary to tertiary education from final source of funds is relatively high. (5.6 %, rank 2/42 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Teachers

    The number of days of instruction in a school year in lower secondary school is especially high. (196 Days, rank 5/34 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Teachers' salaries

    After 15 years of experience, a lower secondary teacher with minimum qualification can expect to have one of the lowest salaries among OECD and partner countries with available data. (18381 USD Equivalent, rank 32/32 , 2019) Download Indicator

    After 15 years of experience, an upper secondary teacher with minimum qualification can expect to have one of the lowest salaries among OECD and partner countries with available data. (18381 USD Equivalent, rank 33/33 , 2019) Download Indicator

    After 15 years of experience, a pre-primary teacher with minimum qualification can expect to have one of the lowest salaries among OECD and partner countries with available data. (17657 USD Equivalent, rank 26/27 , 2019) Download Indicator

    After 15 years of experience, a primary teacher with minimum qualification can expect to have one of the lowest salaries among OECD and partner countries with available data. (17657 USD Equivalent, rank 33/33 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The ratio of pre-primary teachers' salaries to earnings of full-time, full-year workers with tertiary education is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (1.13 Ratio, rank 3/21 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The ratio of lower secondary teachers' salaries to earnings of full-time, full-year workers with tertiary education is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (1.44 Ratio, rank 1/25 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Teachers' salaries progression

    Starting salaries for teachers with minimum training in primary education are especially low. (13983 USD Equivalent, rank 36/37 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Salaries of primary school teachers with minimum training after 10 years of experience are especially low. (16432 USD Equivalent, rank 34/34 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Salaries of primary school teachers with minimum training at the top of scale are especially low. (21331 USD Equivalent, rank 34/34 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Starting salaries for lower secondary teachers with minimum training are especially low. (14554 USD Equivalent, rank 35/36 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Salaries of lower secondary teachers with minimum training after 10 years of experience are especially low. (17105 USD Equivalent, rank 33/33 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Salaries of lower secondary teachers with minimum training at the top of scale are especially low. (22208 USD Equivalent, rank 33/33 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Starting salaries for upper secondary teachers with minimum training are especially low. (14554 USD Equivalent, rank 36/37 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Salaries of upper secondary teachers with minimum training after 10 years of experience are especially low. (17105 USD Equivalent, rank 34/34 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Salaries of upper secondary teachers with minimum training at the top of scale are especially low. (22208 USD Equivalent, rank 34/34 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Starting salaries for pre-primary teachers with minimum training are especially low. (13983 USD Equivalent, rank 28/30 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Salaries of pre-primary teachers with minimum training after 10 years of experience are especially low. (16432 USD Equivalent, rank 27/28 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Salaries of pre-primary teachers with minimum training at the top of scale are especially low. (21331 USD Equivalent, rank 26/28 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Organisation of the education system

    In Costa Rica, the intended instruction time for primary students, in hours per year, is one of the longest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (1147 Hours, rank 1/29 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Costa Rica, compulsory instruction time for lower secondary students, in hours per year, is one of the longest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (1120 Hours, rank 4/35 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Classes are particularly small in primary schools. (16 Students, rank 31/32 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Classes in public primary institutions are comparatively small in Costa Rica. (16 Students, rank 35/36 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Classes in lower secondary public institutions are comparatively large in Costa Rica. (35 Students, rank 1/34 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Employment and educational attainment

    The employment rate among 25-64 year-olds with a short-cycle tertiary education degree is low compared to other OECD and partner countries. (72.8 %, rank 36/38 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-34 year-olds with a vocational upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is relatively low compared to other OECD and partner countries. (70.4 %, rank 31/34 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-34 year-olds with a short-cycle tertiary education is comparatively low. (71.4 %, rank 30/31 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-64 year-olds with a vocational upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is relatively low compared to other OECD and partner countries. (72.2 %, rank 30/34 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 45-54 year-olds with a vocational upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is relatively low compared to other OECD and partner countries. (69.8 %, rank 32/34 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Unemployment and educational attainment

    Among the unemployed population aged between 25 and 64, with below upper secondary education, the share of those who have been unemployed for less than 3 months is one of the largest in Costa Rica, compared to other OECD countries. (65.3 %, rank 3/31 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Among the unemployed population aged between 25 and 64 with below upper secondary education, the share of those who have been unemployed for at least 3 months to less than 12 months is one of the smallest in Costa Rica, compared to other OECD countries. (21.2 %, rank 27/31 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Among the unemployed population aged between 25 and 64 with below upper secondary education, the share of those who have been unemployed for at least 12 months is one of the smallest in Costa Rica, compared to other OECD countries. (13.5 %, rank 34/38 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Among the unemployed population aged between 25 and 64 with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education, the share of those who have been unemployed for at least 3 months to less than 12 months is one of the smallest in Costa Rica, compared to other OECD countries. (23.2 %, rank 27/31 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Among the unemployed population aged between 25 and 64 with tertiary education, the share of those who have been unemployed for less than 3 months is one of the largest in Costa Rica, compared to other OECD countries. (54.5 %, rank 5/31 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Among the unemployed population aged between 25 and 64 with tertiary education, the share of those who have been unemployed for at least 3 months to less than 12 months is one of the smallest in Costa Rica, compared to other OECD countries. (26.9 %, rank 27/31 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The inactivity rate of 25-34 years-old adults with below upper secondary education is low in Costa Rica. (22.1 %, rank 37/41 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The unemployment rate among 25-34 year-olds with a vocational upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is one of the highest of all OECD countries and partner economies for which data are available. (14.3 %, rank 3/33 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Costa Rica, the inactivity rate of 25-34 year-olds with vocational upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is relatively Costa Rica. (17.9 %, rank 4/33 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Costa Rica, the inactivity rate of 25-34 year-olds with general upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is relatively Costa Rica. (15.4 %, rank 33/37 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Earnings and educational attainment

    The proportion of male full-time earners among all earners aged 35 to 44 without upper secondary education is comparatively high. (94 %, rank 1/28 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The proportion of female full-time earners among all earners aged 35 to 44 without upper secondary education is comparatively high. (69.2 %, rank 1/28 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The proportional difference in earnings between 25-64 year-old adults with tertiary education and those with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is quite high. (200 Index, rank 4/37 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Earnings of women as a percentage of men's earnings (among 25-64 year-olds with tertiary education and income from employment) are one of the highest among countries with available data. (97.1 %, rank 1/37 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Earnings of women as a percentage of men's earnings (25-64 year-olds with income from employment) are one of the highest among countries with available data. (111.9 %, rank 1/37 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Earnings of 25-64 year-old full and part-time workers with tertiary education are comparatively high. (204 Index, rank 4/37 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Earnings by field of education

    Earnings of tertiary-educated adults who studied in the field of business, administration and law are low, compared to earnings of all tertiary-educated adults in Costa Rica. (96 %, rank 15/15 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Earnings of tertiary-educated adults who studied in the field of information and communication technologies (ICT) are low, compared to earnings of all tertiary-educated adults in Costa Rica. (103.2 %, rank 14/15 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Earnings of tertiary-educated adults who studied in the field of engineering, manufacturing and construction are low, compared to earnings of all tertiary-educated adults in Costa Rica. (101.3 %, rank 14/15 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Neither in education nor employed

    (17.9 %, rank 3/39 , 2018) Download Indicator

    (17.9 %, rank 1/38 , 2018) Download Indicator

    (17.9 %, rank 5/37 , 2018) Download Indicator


    The data table will display up to six selected countries.
    General findings
    
                            
    • While 37% of 15-19 year-old upper secondary students are in vocational programmes, the share increases to 61% among students over 25.
    • The most popular fields of study among vocational graduates vary at different levels of education. While engineering, manufacturing and construction is the most common broad field at upper secondary level, at short-cycle tertiary level, most students graduate from business, administration and law, or health and welfare.
    • Combined school and work-based learning can help students transition smootly into the labor market. However, only one -third of all upper secondary vocational students are enrolled in school and work-based programmes on average across OECD countries.
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    • Between the age of 3 to 5, 88% of children are enrolled in pre-primary and primary education, on average across OECD countries.
    • The estimated expenditure on all children aged 3 to 5 enrolled in ECEC and primary education amounts to an average of 0.6% of GDP. Only in Iceland and Norway does it equal or exceed 1.0%.
    • The ECEC workforce is at the heart of high-quality education. On average across OECD countries, there are 14 children for every teacher working in pre-primary education (ISCED 02).
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    • In 2019, 45% of 25-34 year-olds held a tertiary degree, compared to 28% among 55-64 year-olds, on average across OECD countries.
    • On average across OECD countries, 17% of first-time tertiary entrants enter short-cycle tertiary programmes. The employment rate of adults with a short-cycle tertiary degree is 4 percentage points higher than those with an upper secondary vocational attainment and they earn 16% more, on average across OECD countries.
    • Based on current patterns, it is estimated that 38% of young adults across OECD countries will graduate from tertiary education for the first time before the age of 30 (excluding international students).
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    • In 2017, total expenditure amounted to approximately USD 9 100 per student in primary institutions and USD 10 500 in secondary institutions on average across OECD countries.
    • After increasing between 2005 and 2012, total expenditure on primary to tertiary institutions as a share of gross domestic product (GDP) has fallen to 4.9% in 2017 on average, below its 2005 value of 5.1%. This is due to educational expenditure rising more slowly than GDP over this period, growing by 17% while GDP grew by 27%.
    • Private sources financed more than 30% of the expenditure, on average, at tertiary level compared to 10% at primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary level.
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    • There are relatively few young teachers (under the age of 30), and the proportion decreases with the level of education. Young teachers make up 12% of the teaching population in primary education, 10% in lower secondary education and 8% in upper secondary education, on average across OECD countries.
    • While instruction time for students increases at higher educational levels, statutory teaching time in public institutions decreases: teachers in OECD countries and economies are required to teach on average 778 hours per year at primary level compared to 680 hours at upper secondary level (general programmes).
    • Between 2005 and 2019, the statutory salaries of primary and secondary general teachers - with 15 years of experience and the most prevalent qualifications - increased by 2-3%, despite salaries falling after the 2008 economic crisis, on average across OECD countries and economies with available data.
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    Key
    Country Reviews for Costa Rica

    Note: These values should be interpreted with care since they are influenced by countries' specific contexts and trade-offs. In education, there is often no simple most- or least-efficient model. For instance, the share of private expenditure in education must be read against other measures designed to mitigate inequities, such as loans and grants; longer learning time is an opportunity to convey more and better content to students, but may hinder investments in other important areas. If you want further information on the nature of different variables, please take the time to read the analysis and contextual information, available at the website for each publication.
    All rankings for individual variables are compiled on the basis of OECD and G20 countries for which data are available. The OECD average includes only OECD countries which are listed here: http://www.oecd.org/about/membersandpartners/

    *TALIS averages are based on all countries participating in the TALIS survey, including partner countries and economies. This explains the difference between the OECD average and the TALIS average. Data from the TALIS survey and Education at a Glance (EAG) may differ. See Annex E of the TALIS technical report and Annex 3 of EAG 2019 for more details about the data collections.

    B-S-J-Z (China) refers to the four PISA-participating provinces/municipalities of the People's Republic of China: Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang.

    For additional notes, please refer to annexes in the list of links below the introductory country profile text.