San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Legislators to Debate Hike in Educational Spending

The new 57-member Legislative Assembly agreed to debate an initiative to increase spending on public education to 8 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).

According to Guillermo Zúñiga, National Liberation Party legislator, a 2 percent increase in education spending would amount to 3.6 billion colones ($670 million).

Former President Oscar Arias left office with education spending at 7 percent of GDP, 1 percentage point above the legally mandated amount. The further 1 percent increase would require an estimated ¢1.5 billion investment ($300 million).

The increase was supported by the left-leaning Citizen Action Party (PAC), which said in a press release that spending more on education has been “an aspiration that PAC has expressed since its creation and in all of its electoral campaigns.”

On the other side of the political spectrum, the fiscally conservative Libertarian Movement agreed not to block the final vote on the bill.

If the bill passes the Legislative Assembly, spending on public education, including higher education, would increase by a half of a percentage point annually until reaching 8 percent.

The increased funding would be directed towards general and specialized education in rural areas.

Despite a drop in the GDP last year, Costa Rican universities maintained their government funding at $388 million. In fact, last year the education minister agreed to increase the 2010 university budget by 10 percent (TT, Aug. 28, 2009).

–Chrissie Long

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