Aviation for Humanity visited the Escuela Playa Hermosa in the northwestern province of Guanacaste in Costa Rica. The school, holding sixty students ranging in age between five and twelve years of age, is situated down a dusty, dirt road a few miles from the beach. While the school lacks a playground and adequate resources, it is clearly beloved in the community. The well-maintained grounds and friendly staff provided a wonderful setting for Aviation for Humanity and the students to interact.
Aviation for Humanity believes that students are empowered by owning their own school supplies and value the importance of education. Through our supporters’ generous donations, we were able to hand out sixty individual packets of pencils, mini-notepads, pens, crayons, spiral notebooks, and, of course, airplanes for a total of 456 writing tools and 120 notepads. Eager to practice their English, the students came up one-by-one to receive their school supplies. They showed their appreciation with well-rehearsed “thank yous” in perfect English.
Costa Rica has had an impressive concentration on education. In 1869, the government made education free and mandatory. Furthermore, when the military was disbanded in 1948, the government was able to increase its financial assistance to public education. The government boasts that 30% of the country’s national budget is focused on education (per CostaRica.com). Compare this to the 3% - 10% (depending on source and breakdown of analysis) that the U.S. government spends on public, primary education. While the Costa Rican focus on education is admirable, there are not enough funds to supply adequate school supplies to students.
Aviation for Humanity spoke with Escuela Playa Hermosa’s school director, Javier, regarding the need for his students and the extent of government support for his rural school. He explained, “poquito escuela, poquito dinero” (small school, little money). The government provides the equivalent of $1 USD per student per day, which is meant to cover food and supplies. By comparison, the United States spends an average of $30 per student per day* despite having a smaller percentage of national budget focused on education. The ‘poquito escuela, poquito dinero’ conundrum forces these smaller schools to rely on donations. If you are traveling to northwestern Costa Rica and would like to get involved, please reach out to Aviation for Humanity through our website email.
We thank the employees of Escuela Playa Hermosa and the students for sharing a wonderful afternoon!
*Governing.com estimates New York state is closer to $20,000 per student while Utah is about a third of that, the national average is somewhere around the $11,009 spent on public education per student annually.