Education in Panama
Panama’s population is 90% literate. This is because of its free and compulsory education in the pre-school, primary and secondary levels. Financed by a budget that represents 20% of national expenditures, this free education is offered in government public schools located throughout the country. This free system provides students with easy access to higher institutions such as universities and colleges. Free and compulsory education, therefore, is completed in 11 years, including the pre-schools level for children aged four to five years. Education culminates in the university or college that offers four year bachelor and 2-year doctorate degree programs.
Primary schools have a six-year curriculum upon completion of which students register for secondary schools where they are taught science and mathematics, language and social studies, and the elements of art and technology for three years. The programs in universities are oriented to the needs of society for well-trained and educated individuals for new demands in the advance of the country, through the maritime, scientific, ecological, telecommunications, and Internet sectors.
The Ministry of Education establishes an April to December school year and Spanish as the language of instruction. It also regulates school curricula that take charge of writing the course syllabi and textbooks.
Other forms of education have also been established in some parts of the country. The Special Education courses are designed for handicapped children, and help them pursue useful activities and acquire job-related skills like sewing, cabinet-making, binding and horticulture. Non-formal or adult education schools serve those who could not finish primary and secondary schooling, and offer them two to three-year technical and vocational courses that can qualify them for better jobs after graduation.