School Daze

While kids in the US are getting ready to go back to school, kids in Panama have been in school a long time.  Our summer vacation starts in December just before Christmas.  The school year kind of climaxes in November with a month of patriotic holidays with hours of practicing marching, drumming and playing cheap xylophones.  In the buildup to November, starting around July, every afternoon and evening  you hear the kids practicing on the drums.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASometimes I wish the schools placed more emphasis on learning and thinking than on uniforms and practicing for parades.  Apparently others think so as well . . .


Panama is near the bottom of the class when it comes to quality of education according to an international organization based in Switzerland.

Out of 144 countries, Panama currently ranks 112 in terms of quality of education system, 115 with regard to the quality of primary education, and 125 in the teaching of science and mathematics.

Countries in the region like Barbados (7) and Costa Rica(21) dramatically outrank Panama which outstrips them in terms of per capita income, and boasts of its world standing in terms of growth and GDP The figures come from the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI), issued by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The latest TV commercials launched by the government, rating Panamanian education positively, omit the latter and cite only evidence of enrollment in basic education.

For the World Economic Forum, education is an important pillar of productivity. [NEWSROOM PANAMA]

Hopefully the next government will spend as much on improving education as the current government has spent on improving the country’s infrastructure. While improving infrastructure is important the future welfare of the nation and its citizenry depends more on education.

Most expats with children of school age, and there are more and more every day, either send their children to one of the many private, bi-lingual schools, or home-school.  One kid I knew who was home schooled through about 8th grade, decided to switch to a  private school.  When I asked why he patiently explained that the private school had something his home school lacked: girls.

Most Panamanians who can afford it will send their children to private schools.





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