LEAPFROGGING IN COSTA RICA

Costa Rica is a country rooted in agriculture, known for its harvest of coffee beans and bananas. But along with these exports, the country has managed to leapfrog ahead of others in the region by placing an emphasis on high-tech training.

Date issued: 02 November 2001 | Size/duration: 00:02:39 (2.60 MB)
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Costa Rica is a country rooted in agriculture, known for its harvest of coffee beans and bananas. But along with these exports, the country has managed to leapfrog ahead of others in the region by placing an emphasis on high-tech training.

Milena Jimenez is 10 years old and lives in a rural part of Costa Rica. Each morning she walks down a farm road to her school where she is learning about robotics and computers.

Milena Jimenez

If I could connect to the Internet on a computer, I could meet people from all over the world and talk with them about new ideas and practices, any time online.

Costa Rica is a country rooted in agriculture, known for its harvest of coffee beans and bananas. But along with these exports, the country has also cultivated stability, democracy. It has no army and instead invests in education, with a heavy emphasis on high-tech training. The result is a highly literate and competitive workforce.

Clothilde Foaseca aims to bring computer literacy to every primary and elementary school in Costa Rica.

Clothilde Fonseca

What we really wanted to do was prepare the children from a young age, but not only to use technology. We wanted to initiate them into the digital world in a way that allows them to be a part of the digital culture – not just passive users of technology, but also productive participants.

And with that came high flying, high tech investors. Now, Costa Rica has Intel inside. One of the world’s biggest producers of silicon chips since 1992, Intel is a major engine for growth in the New Economy. The country’s GDP has surged by 8.4 percent, half of that due to the Intel plant alone whose output is more than the exports of coffee beans and bananas combined.

Milena Schroeder

What will the future of this country be? This is a very important opportunity and the leaders of Costa Rica will have to consider what this signifies for the country as they plan for the future.

Looking to the future, the potential for leapfrogging or jumping ahead of the development game using ICT, seems even brighter than ever.

Duncan Campbell, ILO

The technologies can allow countries to bypass that sequential movement of industrial upgrading, provided that they have the appropriate skills. That’s the critical ingredient in being able to participate in a higher-value-added niche in global value chains with information communication technologies. So Costa Rica has been a country that’s been successful in doing just that.