VOLUNTEER TEACHING AND EDUCATION PROJECT IN COSTA RICA
INTRODUCTION COSTA RICA EDUCATION AND TEACHING
When you work with The KIVOLEX Education & Literacy Project in Costa Rica, you’ll support educators and caretakers by providing active assistance during the school day. You’ll also assist in the planning and development of school lessons and activities.
Early childhood education in Guanacaste is a central struggle for families due to overcrowded schools, shortages of teachers, and limited availability. Students are often forced to attend in shifts for a maximum of 3 hours per day and many are only open for a total of 100 days per year. At home supplemental education is rare due to parent work schedules or education level. This all results in students entering secondary school unprepared, leading to high dropout rates by age 12. Of course, this is preventable. For children in their earliest years of education, between the ages of 3 and 6, you can provide a solid foundation in literacy, numeracy, social and emotional skills, and motor skills, while providing the positive start children and families need to achieve long-term goals.
TEACHING VOLUNTEERING IN COSTA RICA
In terms of completion and learning outcomes, performance is
less encouraging. Dropout rates, both in school and in tertiary
education, are high in Costa Rica. In 2015, those students
who were still in school at age 15 were two years behind their
OECD peers. Among Latin American participants in PISA,
Costa Rica’s performance was below Chile, while similar to
Colombia and Mexico, and above Brazil and Peru. Costa Rica
has seen little improvement in student achievement in recent
years, despite significant increases in spending. Other rapidly
developing countries in Latin America and elsewhere, have,
like Costa Rica, enrolled more children in secondary school,
but also managed to raise student outcomes.
Education has a major role to play in tackling inequality and
poverty, growing challenges in Costa Rica, where the poverty
rate is twice the OECD average. In absolute terms, children
from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely than ever
to receive a full school education and to graduate at tertiary
level. But, as young people from all social backgrounds have improved their prospects, the relative gaps in life-chances
between different social groups have remained large, and
larger than comparable countries in preschool. Inequality
starts young, with very unequal access to early childhood
services, and widens as students pass through the education
system. A poor student in Costa Rica has less than a one in
ten chance of making it to university– an opportunity gap far
greater than in most OECD countries.
In the face of these challenges, Costa Rica is now giving
increasing attention to the quality of teaching and learning,
and most recently has launched a major initiative to
combat dropout in the most disadvantaged secondary
schools. But key drivers of improvement in the most rapidly
improving education systems – a concerted push to expand
early years’ education, high professional expectations for
teachers, leadership for improvement by schools, and strong
information and evaluation systems that can guide reform –
have not yet gained the needed impetus in Costa Rica
VOICE FROM COSTA RICA COMMUNITY
“Volunteers trust our students, respect their disability, but also recognize them as people who have their own goals and desires for the future. The impact has been very positive.”
“KIVOLEX volunteers have helped us complete projects that would have otherwise been abandoned.”
“Our community has learned so much about other cultures, and our own culture has been enriched as a result.”
CULTURAL ACTIVITIES IN COSTA RICA
MAKE COSTA RICAN CHOCOLATE
What’s better than chocolate? How about creating your own Costa Rican blend of chocolates? As you explore the delicious origins of this world-famous bean, you’ll enjoy a backdrop of lush landscapes dotted with mango and cashew trees.
PRACTICE YOUR SPANISH
Whether your knowledge of the Spanish language starts and ends with “hola” or you’re a fluent speaker, there’s a twice-weekly Spanish lesson that’s right for you! Taught by our KIVOLEX staff at the Home-Base, each level targets specific language goals based on your abilities. From the basics – donde está el baño? – to local Costa Rican slang to help you connect with the neighborhood kids, we’ve got you covered.
HOWL WITH THE MONKEYS
You’ll probably hear the Costa Rican howler monkey before you spot it’s long tail wrapped around a rain forest branch. Learn about the efforts to protect this species against threats of deforestation as you learn about what the forests of Costa Rica offer to a variety of species.
EXPLORE THE FOLKLORE OF SANTA CRUZ
An official city of folklore, and known for music and dance, Santa Cruz is brimming with culture and festivals. Join KIVOLEX to explore this charming town and discover the customs and traditions of the people of the Guanacaste province.
TAKE A SPIN AT A POTTER’S WHEEL
As you wander the markets of Costa Rica, you’ll be sure to see the unique Chorotega pottery of the Guanacaste province, passed down for centuries using ancient traditions and made by hand using clay pounded down by mortar and pestle. Meet with a local artisan and learn their secrets of this craft, and try your hand at your own masterpiece.
MILK A COSTA RICAN COW
Cattle ranching is the lifeblood of the Guanacaste province, and you’re likely to be stopped several times during your stay to allow ranchers to pass with their stock. Get hands on with “sabanero” culture when you visit a traditional ranch and milk your own cow. Creating yogurts, cheeses, and other milk products, these ranches offer so much more than scenes of grazing animals.
COOK COSTA RICAN CUISINE
At weekly cooking classes, prepare mouth-watering Costa Rican recipes alongside our amazing KIVOLEX cooks. With your new Spanish vocab and a tasty plate of homemade gallo pinto — traditional Costa Rican rice and black beans — you’ll have plenty to bond over.
Take a cultural dance lesson from a local Costa Rican dance choreographer renown for her lifelong dedication to the preservation of Guanacasteca culture! Don the traditional skirts, flower pins, handkerchiefs and cowboy hats as you swish and swirl on stage at the town center’s culture stage.
Learn from the experts, as a reknown local teacher and his prized pupil teach you the history and evolution of marimba music in Costa Rica, as well as the structure of the instrument and demonstrate some songs. You’ll also get to play it yourself, and participate in a duet or two!
Play with a local team at a nearby field, taking in the most popular sport of Latin America and getting to spend time with the youth of the Santa Cruz community at the same time!
FREE TIME IN COSTA RICA
VISIT A TURTLE SANCTUARY
Learn about the conservation of sea turtles and nesting in Costa Rica throughout the year, and in the months of June through August, you might get a chance to see the arribada, the migration of the olive ridley sea turtles, which takes place in only 9 locations throughout the world! Watch as new baby sea turtles hatch and make their journey to the sea, escaping predators, and see the efforts of conservation specialists in preserving this species.
ZIPLINE THROUGH RINCON DE LA VIEJA
With over 32,000 acres of pristine wildlife, you’ll sail through the treetops as you zipline through Rincon de la Vieja. Once you’ve mastered the ropes, treat yourself to a tropical smoothie as you admire the two towering volcanoes within the park borders, or take a hike through vibrant orchards brimming with birds and butterflies.
RIDE HORSES IN LA FORTUNA
Ride a horse through the foothills of the Arenal Volcano in La Fortuna and explore the Arenal Volcano, one of the most active in all of Costa Rica. Next, get extreme as you rappel down some of La Fortuna’s waterfalls. For a more tranquil experience, wander the sprawling sugar cane fields on horseback, and finish the day in the famous geothermal hot springs. Now doesn’t that sound lovely?
HIKE IN MONTEVERDE
Home to one of the world’s premier cloud forests, Monteverde invites you to indulge your inner nature-lover. Hike through clouds on platforms suspended in the treetops. Enjoy a unique glimpse into a rare and diverse ecosystem, including the nearly 500 species of wild orchids housed at a nearby orchid farm.
GO FRESH AT A FARMER’S MARKET
Every Saturday, farmers from across the Guanacaste province come together at the Tamarindo Farmer’s Market, where you can explore a wide variety of tropical fruits and maybe try a few new tastes, like carambola or soursop. Once you’ve had your fill of passion fruit juice, head over to the nearby beach for a perfectly relaxing afternoon in the sun.
EXPERIENCE A BREATHTAKING SUNSET
Part of the magic of living on the shores of the Pacific coast is experiencing the breathtaking sunsets that take place as the markets begin to close and evening begins in this Costa Rican community. Join with your fellow volunteers to experience the natural beauty of a Costa Rican sunset. And don’t forget that camera – you’ll be sure to capture some spectacular moments!
SHARE A SMILE WITH A CROCODILE
Palo Verde National Park is bursting with wildlife, with over 250,000 birds and 15 different habitats, including dry and wet forests. As you canoe through the mangrove forests, you might even come across the 24 teeth of a crocodile grinning back at you.
HANG TEN IN THE PACIFIC
If you’ve always wanted to try your hand at surfing, the warm waters of northern Costa Rica are a great place to start. Whether you’re looking to practice your skills in the Pacific waves, or have a goal of standing up on a beach break, the many beaches of the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica will be sure to inspire and amaze the your inner surf enthusiast.
HIKE A VOLCANO
Enjoy hiking the Arenal, Costa Rica’s youngest volcano and one of the top hiking destinations in the country. You get to see waterfalls and visit some of the most beautiful soothing and warm natural hot springs in the world.
SNORKEL IN THE SUN
Located at the Pacific coast of the Nicoya Peninsula in Guanacaste, Sámara is known for its palm-lined main beach, Playa Sámara. There’s kayaking, snorkeling, ATV-ing, and an array of other activities to enjoy on the wonderful white sand or the aquamarine water.
HOME BASE ACCOMMODATIONIN COSTA RICA
Across the street from an authentic Costa Rican ranch and down a private dirt road, your Home-Base in Guanacaste is the ultimate setting for relaxation and comfort. As you stroll through mango and cashew trees in the expansive yard, catch a glimpse of majestic horses over the wooden fence. The interior reflects the natural beauty of the environment, with floor to ceiling windows in each room so you never feel far from the colorful plants that help make Costa Rica so beautiful. Enjoy large shared bedrooms, bright and spacious living areas, or hop into a comfortable hammock as you soak up the “Tico” life.
Tropical living means fresh and delicious meals at the KIVOLEX Home-Base. You’ll be able to mix Costa Rican classics of gallo pinto (rice and beans) with regional specialties like casado and empanadas. Discover soursop, starfruit, sour guava and tamarindo juices to cool down.
WORDS FROM OUR REPRESENTATIVE IN COSTA RICA
Franklin brings his passion for social development and sustainable solutions for social equity to his position as Country President with KIVOLEX. is part of the KIVOLEX team in Costa Rica as a Country President. Franklin received a bachelor’s degree in Food Science and Technology from Zamorano University in Honduras and did a study program in Sustainable Agriculture at Minnesota University. Previous to his work with KIVOLEX, he worked Global Brigades- Nicaragua and he was involved as a volunteer with non-profit organizations in Ethiopia, Uganda, and Ecuador.
Besides his work with Global Brigades and KIVOLEX, Franklin is a student of apologetics and loves to play chess.