Can an army of teachers replace an army of soldiers?

Keper Connell '12 and Prof. Mary Malone

Keper Connell ’12 and Prof. Mary Malone

Keper Connell ’12 traveled to Costa Rica to learn how a country with no military spends its money.

A Spanish and international affairs major, Connell grew interested in the concept of a country without soldiers during his Politics of Cost Rica class, taught by Prof. Mary Malone. Following a brief but horrific civil war, the Latin American country abolished its military in 1949. During the decades that followed, Costa Rica chose to invest its money on education and health care instead of bullets and guns.

As part of their research, Connell and eight classmates traveled with Malone to Costa Rica in January. During their three week-long trip, they toured research centers, congressional offices, banana and coffee bean plantations. Each student also lived with two different Costa Rican families during part of their stay.

Connell learned that Costa Rica has a strong health care system and boasts a 96 percent literacy rate—the highest in Central America. Costa Rica is one of the few Latin American countries where a large percent of students pursue higher education. Students who do well and cannot afford college can attend at no cost and sometimes receive money to cover books and living expenses.

Though Costa Rica has a population of 4.6 million compared to the United State’s 300 million, Connell still believes the country has important lessons and successes to share.

“In the United States, we spend enormous amounts of money on defense and it seems like when it comes to education, teachers have to fight for every penny,” Connell said. “Using Costa Rica as an example, there should be movement for us to spend less on our military and more on our health care and educational systems.”

~by Barbara Walsh ’81

Read the full story in UNH Magazine.

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