24 November 2012

Costa Rica education system

Nov 20, 2012

Both the girls are down with stomach virus. That was a great opportunity to meet a lot of locals – while running or just making friends with the resort staff. Today I was focused on learning about the education system. Again, fascinating….
There are 50 universities! For a country of 4.3 million, that sounds like a lot. However, most of my questions were around K-12.
1. Education is mandatory for

 every child. The country today has seven schools with one student and one teacher!!! If any family is way out in remote areas, the govt will open a temporary school. Even if with one teacher. Talk about “No child left behind”. Got an interesting perspective from such a teacher. She explained her life not just as a teacher – but for those 8 hours she also has to be the classmate – since the child has nobody else to play with! Wow!!
2. To not differentiate between rich and poor, uniforms are mandatory. Private or public school.
3. Usually, there are two shifts. (My mom in India use to work in shifts in school, now I remember). I saw quite a few kids trudging along the road after first shift yesterday.
4. Everybody has to learn two foreign languages. Nobody knows why French is one of them for the first three high school years. Everybody agreed it is of no use!! New language introduced in syllabus – Mandarin Chinese!!
5. There are more teachers than policemen!!
6. Saw a few of the schools on the trip. Definitely nowhere close to the facilities that the US schools enjoy – but I give them full points for trying with limited money that they have.
7. While there is a fixed school calendar – in high school, you can earn your in-year credits faster by studying hard. Then you get some time off (shorter year) that you can use to learn new things or go for vocational training. (Cannot stay at home though!!! )
Rahul Guha, it seems the literacy rate is between 95-97%.
24 November 2012

Costa Rican politics

Nov 19, 2012

Talking to the locals here during the day trips, I learnt some fascinating things about Costa Rican politics. Some of the ideas, I would contend, are more advanced than many developed and developing countries.

1. Costa Ricans are obsessed with avoiding corruption in politics. If you are elected president, after one term, you have to wait out two terms before you can be president again.
2. If you

are a congressman who wishes to stand for re-election, you have to resign from the house at least one year before reelection!!
3. Outside of the three usual bodies – Executive, Legislative and Judiciary, there is a fourth body – Electoral Tribunal who takes over all law and order (e.g. Police is moved under this body) two months before election till one month after election to maintain fairness.

Some other tidbits:
1. The president appoints 2 vice presidents. Nobody has been able to tell me why.
2. Costa Rica disbanded the Army (Navy and Airforce also) half a century back to focus on diverting the money to economic development!!!

For a country of 4.3 million where over 1 million are immigrants, it appears they have made impressive progress.

24 November 2012

Sunday night date

Nov 18, 2012

Sunday evening. Like every Sunday evening, it is a date night with Sharmila. With a few twists… Instead of our usual Milton’s, it is a sports bar at Alajuela in Costa Rica. Instead of Meiomi Pinot Noir, it is a Costa Rican sugarcane based local drink Guaro. Instead of Alexis, Nate, Austin et. al. at the bar, it is Estaban, Andrea and all. One thing still remains the same. We are watching NFL!!! — with Sharmila Roy at Bar El Almendro.