By Nicol Vargas Trejos - English Teaching and Translation Student
Have you ever thought that there is inequality in public education? Or do you think that the way they choose who learns English is not fair? Have you ever wished you could improve the current situation? Sometimes we see these sentiments as an act of rebellion, but not following ideals that seek only sound is a real act of selfishness. This article talks about how we see this as a matter of action and not discussion, how, from experiences studying and working with low-income children, I have learned what it is like to dream of quality education and not being able to have it, simply because the country does not have strategies to implement new ideas. Costa Rica has an excellent public education system, but we lag in terms of progress and current needs in many aspects.
From the sustainable development goal number four, quality education, the United Nations mentions that education enables socio-economic mobility upward and is key to escape poverty. During the last decade, great strides have been made in expanding access to education and school enrollment measures at all levels, particularly for girls. One of the goals is to ensure that all girls and boys complete primary and secondary education, which must be free, equitable, and of quality and produce relevant and effective learning outcomes (Moran, n.d.). However, this is where there is a big gap. In Costa Rica, not all children are given the same education, therefore, it is far from being equitable. How can this problem be solved?
The Ministry of Public Education is the highest authority responsible for organizing the way in which educational processes are carried out. The first action to consider is to implement the English language in all schools, without exception, since it is an injustice that some children have these rights and others do not. In some places, the second language is taken into account within the basic subjects, but in others it does not even exist. And to clearly consider some strategies, the first thing is to make sure that the teachers have an adequate level of English and have the necessary studies to be able to teach it, nowadays this issue is no longer such a big problem because there is better control. However, it is still probable that a person who is not a professional can get that job.
If we involve children in learning a second language from an early age, the process is facilitated, but many times teachers only speak in Spanish while teaching English, and this is not an effective strategy, and the proof is that students are still graduating without having a basic level of the language. The educational system often only considers the general needs, but since not all students are the same, there is no better strategy than adapting to the processes of each one. If we force them to follow a robotic system, we are not exploiting their potential. Managing large groups of students is difficult, but for them it is more difficult to sit for many hours in a chair to listen to an adult talking about topics far from their reality. The processes must be creative, playful, involving active participation.
In summary, small actions change many realities. If the government considers transforming its strategies that have been the same for years, if they implement programs thinking about the students and not the economy, the country's public education has the potential to make future professionals bilingual. In Costa Rica, speaking English is the most important element of social mobility. As the 2015 and 2016 State of the Nation points out, there is a high demand for English language positions (Gutiérrez, 2016). In addition, talking about it can mean an increase of more than 20% in salary, the problem to be solved is that thousands of students are still graduating from high school without any knowledge in a second language. The question is, are there still people who think that the system does not need changes? It is time to open our eyes and think about the capabilities of the new generations.