The educational system in Panama is ranked one of the worst in the world. It's even worse in Bocas del Toro where school is often canceled due to rain, teacher absenteeism, strikes, and other reasons. Furthermore schools are very over-crowded forcing children to attend in 2 shifts (one group from 7am-12pm and one from 1-6pm).
Panamanian students had devastating results in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA)of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) It ranked 71st out of 77 countries. (2019)
Students rank particularly poorly in the areas of math and science. 81% of students do not know how to answer a simple calculation.
COVID set children even further behind. For over two years, schools were completely shut down and many older students dropped out completely. Nanette Svenson, Director of Panama’s Centro de Investigación Educativa (Center for Educational Research) states “The pandemic has emphasized what we already knew: the quality of our public education system, that serves 87% of students in the country, is not adequate to build a prosperous and equitable future.”
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