Educators are intrinsic to the Church’s mission in Costa Rica
Those involved in education are like Christ for their role in educating individuals, families and society, says a bishop from Costa Rica where education is free and compulsory.
“The Church, as an expert on humanity, is close to men, she works in solidarity and proclaims to them the fullness to which they are called in Christ”, declared Bishop Bartolomé Buigues Oller d’Alajuela, in a message he published in November at the Church of Costa Rica asks “to consider, thank, pray for educators and education.”
The Church is present in the field of education, essential for growth and personal and family well-being and privileged to work for the good of society, “for the creation of a culture of friendship with the humanity and the common home ”, Mgr says Buigues.
Costa Rica celebrates National School Day every November 10, which commemorates universal public education for all children.
For this year, the Catholic bishops had chosen the theme “The educator engaged in a culture of solidarity”.
The Church celebrates with “the recognition of a common culture of solidarity that we have produced during this time,” the bishop wrote in the message.
“Among the fundamental values that have forged us as a country, there is the Christian faith, which has deeply permeated our culture in all its manifestations: attitudes, customs, architecture, art…”, declared Mgr Buigues, reports Fides.
He said the pandemic has disrupted educational work, affecting the quality of education and leading to more dropouts and among other things, inequalities in education have increased.
“Let us take all of this as a challenge to our generous response,” said the bishop and asked educators to consider Pope Francis’ call for a global “educational pact” to rekindle commitment and passion for a more open and inclusive education, capable of patient listening, constructive dialogue and mutual understanding.
Bishop Buigues invited everyone to unite their efforts for “a broad educational alliance” and “to establish networks for education”.
Education is the task of educators, of every family and every community involved in education, he said.
Costa Rica’s literacy rate is 96% and since 1869 elementary schools, which range from kindergarten to sixth grade, have been free, compulsory and paid for by the government,
In the 1949 Constitution which now governs Costa Rica, the army was abolished and the entire budget spent on the military was reallocated to finance education, now primary school is compulsory and free and has become the main tool for the development and well-being of peoples.
Costa Rica’s education system is ranked 32nd in the world, the highest in Latin America, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2008-2009 Global Competitiveness Report.
There are over 9,300 educational institutions in Costa Rica, including five public universities and over 50 private universities.
The Catholic Church has been involved in the educational apostolate since colonial times, with education in Costa Rica mainly consisting of religious and political aspects that were constantly evolving during the 19th and 20th centuries.
The first teacher in the history of Costa Rican education was Father Diego Aguilar. He ran the first primary school and worked there for over 40 years.
An 1852 law repealed the exclusive role the Catholic Church played in education and made education independent of the Church.