It’s a difficult truth: If you know English in Costa Rica, you get farther in life. In theory, the nation’s grade schools require students to study English, to help them become competitive in later years. But according to some estimates, as many as 45 percent of these schools have no English teachers at all, leaving behind a quarter of students. Not surprisingly, the school systems most lacking are based in rural and underserved communities.
This holiday season, the JumpStart Costa Rica program is running an ambitious fundraising campaign. Created by the Costa Rica Multilinguë Foundation (CRML), JumpStart has proven true to its name: The program started in 2012 with only 23 students, yet after a successful pilot period, JumpStart now expects to serve 600 students from 30 communities. Their goal for 2014 is to provide additional training to 35 public school teachers, which should directly benefit up to 5,000 students.
The month-long camps are designed to give seventh-grade students a crash-course in English grammar and vocabulary, as well as a broader academic curriculum, including math, science, technology and engineering. Four-hour sessions take place daily, and education is largely “project-based.” Most teachers are volunteers from the United States, many of them enrolled in the Peace Corps.
At the moment, JumpStart is funded entirely by donors. Donation levels begin at $25 (equivalent to a textbook and writing materials), and continue to $200 (by “adopting a jumpstarter,” donors receive photos and updates) and even $4,000 (full tuition for 20 students for a four-week camp). For more information, visit: http://jumpstartcostarica.org/inicio/en/como-ayudar.