Costa Rica launches safe schools project

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FIA Foundation board member and former Chairman Carlos Macaya at the launch
FIA Foundation board member and former Chairman Carlos Macaya at the launch
Costa Rican Vice President Luis Liberman
Costa Rican Vice President Luis Liberman

Costa Rica has launched a new project to provide road safety for more than 4,000 school children. The safe schools project will design educational tools and safe infrastructure to protect the children on their journeys to and from school.

The project is supported by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the non-profit Sesame Workshop, the FIA Foundation, the Road Safety Fund and the Costa Rican Road Safety Agency (COSEVI).

It will reach 4,500 students and their teachers in primary schools in the south part of San Jose, Paso Ancho, San Sebastian and Hatillo, zones. A new education programme is being designed and the Government Ministry of Public Works and Transport, with funding from the IDB, will begin construction of safer road infrastructure.

Road accidents are currently the leading cause of death among children and youth in Latin America and the Caribbean. In Costa Rica about 14 per 100,000 people are killed each year by road accidents, more than double the rate in European countries.

“We are investing heavily in infrastructure to provide our country roads that make us more competitive, but we believe this should be accompanied by road safety awareness campaigns that promote safe behaviours, ensuring that we all benefit from the new roads,” said Luis Liberman, Vice President of Costa Rica.

Carlos Macaya, board member and former Chairman of the FIA Foundation and President, Automobile Club of Costa Rica spoke at the launch. He said:

“There is nothing more important than protecting the lives, health and happiness of our children. So the FIA Foundation is delighted to be a supporter of this project, and proud to work alongside the Inter-American Development Bank, Plaza Sésamo and the Government of Costa Rica.

“We want to see every school, everywhere, become the heart of road safety in its community: training teachers, students and parents; encouraging everyone to behave safely on the road, when driving, riding or walking. We want to see seat belts in school buses, helmets on the heads of bike riders, and roads and streets designed to be safe for children to walk or cycle.”

A ceremony to officially launch the road safety tool kit for the schools was held at the Escuela República de Haití in San José. During the event, IDB Representative in Costa Rica Fernando Quevedo, joined Carlos Macaya, Carolina Casas from Sesame Workshop and representatives from the National Bank of Costa Rica.

The participants jointly presented Costa Rican Vice President Luis Liberman with the road safety toolkit, which is part of the IDB’s regional campaign ‘Haz tu parte, Vías seguras para todos’. The toolkit includes a classroom based storybook, posters, activity cards and a colouring book for children to take home and continue learning with their families.

The IDB’s Rica Fernando Quevedo said: "At the IDB we believe that building more and better roads must be accompanied with road safety education. Working with Sesame Workshop, an organization recognized worldwide for its educational programs, and COSEVI, adds to our efforts to create awareness among Costa Rican children on safe road behaviours.”

The project is also receiving contributions from two NGOs - Amend, which has been working elsewhere with the FIA Foundation and Road Safety Fund on safe schools initiatives; and Color My World (CMW), a youth-run nonprofit, which recycles crayons, sending them around the globe to pre-schools, orphanages and refugee camps. CMW donated crayons to accompany the children’s road safety books.