Panamá, An Excellent Place to Raise Children
Panamá has excellent private schools and universities. Some of them were designed to the best of the best in places like in the United States or other First World study centers.
Since the 19th century, whoever graduated from these recognized institution, especially those from Catholic schools, like Colegio Internacional de María Inmaculada, Corazón de Jesús, Nuestra Señora de Bethlem, La Salle, San Agustín or El Javier were assured of receiving the best education. I know this from experience, because I graduated from one of these esteemed Catholic schools in 1965, when a high school student could not graduate unless they spoke at least three languages.
Every single subject was covered in our study plans, from worldwide studies to the most complicated problems in calculus. When I graduated from high school, I was well prepared to be at the same level as a third year college student in Florida. I had such deep knowledge, I was able to comprehend and discuss many subjects, as well as be placed in advanced math. In comparison, the students in the United States seemed academically very well behind me.
In contrast to the private schools in Panamá, our public schools have a long way to go, but they are doing their best to upgrade to the curriculum they need. To train teachers for this task, the state university candidates in education have to earn a high GPA (grade point average) in order to graduate with a degree. This step has been taken to meet the goals of improving our public school education system.
But one thing is the common denominator of why our public schools are lacking: the paltry budgets set by Ministry of Education. Salaries are very low, especially when compared to private schools that offer teachers who have graduated from elite, private schools and with masters and post international educational degrees.
Another aspect of the education in Panamá is through the years, more and more non-religious private schools are offering their services in Panamá, some of them, exclusively for expats, foreigners or the children of executives from multinational corporations or diplomats. These schools usually teach a variety of the most used languages in the world.
Now to the subject of a family raising children in Panamá. Each one can make their choice. If you chose the "interior" (or countryside), life is more relaxed, and things are a lot easier. Communities are smaller, lives there are peaceful, and you are usually surrounded by chickens or other pets, children playing everywhere and having fun. Outdoor adventures are very popular and kids learn to share with friends. But, at the same time, in each city of the "interior," you can find resorts, hotels, restaurants and all kinds of fun places to go. Rivers, mountains, horse back-riding, fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, jet skiing, surfing, riding four wheelers, and everybody at the beaches; all this makes the children go on and on, instead of staying 14 hours in front of the TV playing video games.
The opportunities to get into trouble are not that much. Parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins are always around to take care of the children or to bring them some kind of fun. With so many modern malls, movies and facilities, there is no need to be in a gang. Latin children are less likely to get in trouble. You never hear of a school shooting or other terrible thing you see on the international TV news.
Grandparents are a very special gift for Latin American children. They are always around. As Panamá is so small, even if they lived in a different town, it is just matter of a few hours of travel, and then the whole family can get together.
When you live in the city, there is no need to mention the fun the children can have. Moreover, usually Panamanians have a weekend house, either in the beach or mountains. And every weekend or holiday is a good excuse to get a get together and spend days doing what the children like to do best: have fun.
And if you have family overseas, technology and airlines are modern, so you can easily be in contact, either physically or via the Internet. No problem at all.