Landscapes and music from Costa Rica
The literacy rate in Costa Rica is 94.9%, one of the highest in Latin America. When the army was abolished in 1949, it was said that the "army would be replaced with an army of teachers." Elementary and high schools are found throughout the country in practically every community. Universal public education is guaranteed in the constitution. Primary education is obligatory, and both preschool and high school are free. There are only a few schools in Costa Rica that go beyond the 12th grade. Students who finish 11th grade receive a Costa Rican Bachillerato Diploma accredited by the Costa Rican Ministry of Education.
There are both state and private universities, with the public universities being regarded as the best in the country, as well as being one of the best means of social mobility, given the large proportion of the budget spent to subsidize students from poor families. The University of Costa Rica has been awarded the title "Meritorious Institution of Costa Rican Education and Culture". In recent years, many private universities and colleges have consolidated because demand for higher education exceeds places available in the public sector.