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Panama Education and Training



Reading and writing skills are high in Panama. More than half of the children go to preschool before they start school at the age of six. School duty formally prevails through ninth grade. Almost everyone completes the first six-year stage, but about a third fall away during the corresponding high school and high school.

In the countryside and among the indigenous peoples, the proportion of early school leavers is considerably higher than the average. The government, in collaboration with the UN, has introduced programs with cash grants for families who ensure that children attend school.

  • Allcitypopulation: Offers a list of biggest cities in the state of Panama, including the capital city which hosts major colleges and universities.
  • COUNTRYAAH: Country facts of Panama, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.

The quality of education is low, especially in relation to the country's relatively good economy. Outdated study plans and substandard premises are among the problems. The poor results are liable to be an obstacle to continued economic growth, due to the lack of skilled labor.

On average, girls spend more years at school than boys, and 60% of college students are women. The school year runs from February to December and is divided into three semesters.

Most schools are state-run and all education up to the university level is free of charge. In the cities there are also some prestigious private schools. There are five state universities and a large number of private, often small colleges. Several large American universities have branches in the country.

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Proportion of children starting primary school

87.2 percent (2015)

Number of pupils per teacher in primary school

21 (2016)

Reading and writing skills

94.1 percent (2010)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP

13.0 percent (2011)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of the state budget

13.0 percent (2011)



No alliance before the election

December 28

The two opposition candidates in the presidential election, the Panamist Party's Juan Carlos Varela and the PRD's Juan Carlos Navarro, fail to reach a formal agreement to form an alliance before the deadline for the May elections. This will strengthen the position of CD's Josť Domingo Arias, who already led the polls in mid-December.


Politicians are sentenced for leaked emails

PRD's candidate in the 2009 election, Balbina Herrera, is sentenced to three years in prison for having leaked an email conversation between President Martinelli and Valter Lavitola (see April 2012). Herrera says the verdict is political and is supported by citizen groups and advocacy organizations, which mean that the judiciary is politicized and points out that Martinelli has appointed five of the Supreme Court's nine judges. Martinelli soon afterwards pardons his former rival.

Martinelli cancels the lawsuit

Martinelli states that he has withdrawn his lawsuit against Vice President Varela (see May 2012).


Arms fittings on North Korean boat

Customs finds military equipment in a North Korean ship on its way from Cuba. The ship is seized and the crew arrested. The Cuba government announces that the hidden cargo consists of unusable old Soviet weapons that would be repaired in North Korea and then shipped back. The United States claims that the weapons, although ineffective, violate UN sanctions on North Korea. The rules for transport through the Panama Canal also provide for all cargo to be declared.


Primary selection in CD

President Martinelli's party CD selects former housing minister Josť Domingo Arias as his candidate for the presidential election. Martinelli is hindered by the constitution to set up. In opinion polls, Arias is following both the PRD's Juan Carlos Navarro and Vice President Juan Carlos Varela, who is the candidate of the Panamist Party.

Drought causes distress

Due to drought, the government announces emergency in one third of the country and commands a sharp reduction in electricity consumption. Many schools close and opening hours for both government and commercial activities are limited.


Primary elections before the presidential election

PRD appoints former Mayor of Panama City, Juan Carlos Navarro, as its presidential candidate for the May 2014 elections. The Panamist Party appoints Vice President Juan Carlos Varela as its presidential candidate.



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