Did you know that Panama is a great place for education? After all, its literacy rate is around 95%, according to the latest figures released by UNESCO. That means almost anyone in the country aged 15 and up is literate.
If you’re thinking about moving to Panama, one of your major considerations would be picking the right school for your kids. Nothing is more important than your children’s education. The good news is that the country has a diverse set of educational options catering to children of all ages.
Take note, the best private schools in the country are famous in Central America. Most people consider these as some of the best in the region. With that, you can expect diversity for both educational options and its students.
Before you start looking for the best schools in Panama, here are some things you should consider:
Public vs. Private Schools
Many countries give high-quality education to their students with public schools. But in Panama, this doesn’t always apply. Unfortunately, the public school system in the country isn’t as funded compared to other countries.
As a result, most public schools in the country will have severely-lacking classrooms. They also won’t have a means of consistent access to basic educational resources. That means they also can’t hire experienced teachers or fund a more comprehensive school curriculum.
This doesn’t mean though you won’t find teachers with talent or passion in the Panamanian public schools. Regardless, expect the school quality in the country to be variable. That’s why it’s often difficult to gauge a school’s quality until you enroll your child and let them experience it.
For private schools, they have admission costs. But take note, this price tag will often be worth the benefits. Reputable private schools in Panama will have well-equipped classrooms staffed by experienced teachers.
The best part is that Panamanian private schools give a safe and happy environment. It’s conducive to learning, making it the better choice. If you choose to enroll your child in a private school, you’ll need to consider several factors.
Common Annual School Calendar
When choosing an international school in Panama, you should consider its annual calendar. Many countries will adhere to a school calendar, which applies to all schools. It doesn’t matter whether it’s private or public schools.
In Panama, this practice doesn’t always hold. The short explanation is that the country has two academic calendars that work at the same time. That’s why schools in this country will follow one of the two schedules.
One schedule is the standard school calendar based on North American education systems. That means the school year will run from September to June. The other schedule is a more common tradition in Central American schools, running from March to December.
Depending on your origin country, your ideal school can change depending on these schedules. Your length of stay can also affect which international school can cater to your needs. Most United States expats will go for schools that have a typical North American school year.
The reason behind this preference is to make it possible for children to go back to the United States in the summer. But for others, the opposite schedule is more ideal. After all, January and February are off-months for the country, making the travel cheaper and less troublesome.
Location and Facilities
Panama’s capital city has most of the country’s reputable private and international schools. The good news is that new international schools opened in other localities recently. With this, you can expect areas with good schools to have more expensive real estate prices.
The presence of schools also dictates the type of neighborhood you’ll expect. If you’re in an area with more than one private school, you’re in luck. After all, it tends to be family-friendly compared to other locales with no educational institutions.
The facilities available between schools can vary a lot, and the discrepancy is huge. The top schools in the country will have the following amenities as a standard baseline:
- Athletic facilities
- Modern classrooms with high-tech educational aids
Most Panamanian schools will also offer transportation services and catering. These can either be in-house or independent contractors. Take note, this often means paying more, so make sure to get the best deals around.
School Admission Costs
Private schools will always come with a price tag. The value written on it will vary a lot, depending on the specific school you want to enroll your children in. Some will prefer a single annual tuition fee, which can range between $1,000 and $16,000 for each student.
A more common practice is charging a single enrollment fee and charging a lower fee each month. Depending on the school, the range is $400-$2,000 for the one-time enrollment fee. As for its monthly fee, you might end up paying $100-$1,500 within the 10-month school year.
Do you want to know how varied the school admission fees are in Panama? If so, take the International School of Panama as an example. It’s the most expensive school in the country, and they charge $16,000 for its one-time Capital Donation and a monthly tuition fee of $1,500.
The good news is that some schools will give you discounts if you enroll more than one child.
Aside from the abovementioned considerations, you also need to consider your special circumstances. It will affect how you’ll choose one institution over the other. If you’re migrating from another country, the main problem you’ll face is the language barrier.
Depending on where you’re originally from, you might want your children to either learn a new language or maintain what they have. If your main concern is bilingualism, enrolling your child in an international school is your best course of action.
Take note, Panama has schools that can cater to the French, Japanese, Chinese, and British. The best part is that the international schools in Panama have a more diverse set of students. That means you’ll find students from various countries.
That means your child will see students from both Americas, Europe, and Asia. With a lot of different students, your child will most likely find a new friend without problems. Here are some of the most reputable international schools in Panama:
1. Knightsbridge Schools International Panama
This international school is an IB World school. It’s based in the Pacifico development of Panama, and it’s open to students aged between 2 and 18 years. Its main benefit is its comprehensive academic program.
Its curriculum will focus on developing your child’s strength. That means they’ll let your little one embraces their talents and promote their individuality. KSI Panama’s philosophy revolves around valuing the involvement of technology in the learning of the 21st-century student.
They also have strong beliefs about service-learning and its importance to society. It’s reputable since it’s a part of an international school network across the globe. They present a united front through their ethos as well as their curriculum offerings.
The KSI community lives by the school’s Code of Conduct. It’s designed after the Knightsbridge School in London, getting its strengths and refining it. They adhere to international standards for high-quality international schools around the world.
KSI Panama’s defining feature is its community spirit. It runs strong, regardless of whether you’re a student, a staff member, or a parent. You’re welcome to become part of the KSI family.
2. International School of Panama
This institution’s location is on Golf Club Road, Cerro Viento Rural. It’s in the San Miguelito district of Panama City. Founded back in 1982, around 900 students across the globe call the ISP their home. It’s one of the best institutions since they offer classes from Pre-K up to the 12th grade.
When applying to this school, you need to time it right. After all, they only accept applications in May. A committee will review it and determine whether your child is fit to become a student. ISP’s school schedule runs from August to June.
The best part about graduating in ISP is the certifications. It means the following institutions will give related certifications to your child upon graduating:
- Panamanian Ministry of Education
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)
- International Baccalaureate (IB)
School Curriculum for Special Needs
The ISP curriculum will include classes for children suffering from learning disabilities. That means you can expect it to have programs catering to special education. The ISP considers the needs and level of service needed for them to succeed.
This international school starts thinking about this as soon as they consider the student for admission. They aim to maximize special needs learning while maintaining a regular classroom environment.
When considering your student, a special team determines whether they’ll live up to the school’s standard. They rely on a lot of information, some of which include:
- Psychological and educational evaluations
- School grades
- Parental interviews
- Individual Educational Plan
Regardless, the International School of Panama’s classes uses English as its primary language.
3. Oxford International School
This is a well-respected private school located in Panama City. It’s in the Bella Vista district and you can get there by going to the Via España street. It’s founded in 1983 and it’s one of the accredited schools by the local Ministry of Education.
It also has certifications from the following institutions:
- Northwest Association of Accredited Schools
- Commission on International and Trans-regional Accreditation (CITA)
Like the ISP, the Oxford International School has around 900 students. But they take the March-December school year instead. The good news is that the school uses both English and Spanish for teaching.
4. Saint Mary’s School of Panama
Another institution located in Panama City, you’ll find this school in the Albrook neighborhood. It’s considered as an international school since the majority of its student body are from different places. Like most American and European schools, they follow an August-May schedule.
The Ministry of Education recognizes the degrees earned from studying here. It’s also one of the largest schools in the country, with more than 1,650 people making up its student body. Despite its Catholic nature, St. Mary’s accepts students regardless of their religious affiliation.
5. Boston School International
This school has a high rating since it uses a bilingual education system. It allows graduates to get into the best colleges and universities, regardless of their location in the world. It’s one of the candidate schools for the PYP (Primary Years Program) as well as the IB Diploma.
The school has a lot of extracurricular activities, such as:
Like most international schools, the Boston School uses English for its instruction. The good news is that Spanish and Mandarin are available as additional languages. As for the school schedule, they use the August-June school year.
6. King’s College
This school is relatively new since it only started operating in September 2012. It’s a British private school that offers education from pre-primary up to Primary Cycle initially. Afterward, it will let your child study the full secondary cycle.
King’s College is a member of the King’s Group. This educational organization is prestigious and famous. They have member schools in other European countries like Spain and the United Kingdom.
They take quality seriously since King’s Group schools have high academic standards. It’s recognized by other international institutions like Cambridge University and Yale University. With that, some students from this school got scholarships to these universities.
King’s College follows the English curriculum. That means they’re focusing on cultivating thoughtful young people full of knowledge. They’re strong believers of exploratory learning centered on the children.
The result is a generation that knows how to think. With that, they will push boundaries and explore novel ideas. Thus, they become catalysts in advancing the human race.
7. Metropolitan School of Panama
Otherwise known as MET, this international school offers classes for both Pre-K and K-12 school program. Its campus is near Clayton, in an area known as the City of Knowledge. The strength of this institution lies in the diversity of its staff.
After all, the teachers and other staff members at the MET of Panama come from different parts of the globe. With that, your child will learn through the lens of different cultures. As with any international school, its students are diverse.
The Metropolitan School of Panama follows the August-June school year.
8. Balboa Academy
This international school’s accreditation goes beyond Panama. Its graduates can also expect accreditation from the United States. It’s possible since the school offers a rigorous curriculum held at a high standard.
Founded in 1999, the Balboa Academy now has around 800 students on its campus. They offer education from Pre-K to 12th grade. Like the ISP, student applicants need to turn over their documents by May to get a review.
Balboa Academy uses English in class to facilitate education. They also teach Spanish as part of their curriculum. For high school students, the school also offers French language classes as well.
This school is also in Clayton at Building No. 129. Their school year is the same as the Metropolitan School of Panama, from August to June.
9. The Panamerican School
This school is one of the two schools in the country that offers education to the handicapped. That means children suffering from educational disabilities can attend this school. It’s located in the district of Cerro Viento, and it follows an academic year of March-December.
You can expect their classes to be in English. But for higher grades, the emphasis on the Spanish language increases. It’s also thriving with around 600 students enrolled in its campus.
10. Colegio Javier
This institution has a good rank in Panama. It offers educational curriculums for Pre-K until 12th grade, as with most international schools on this list. Its main campus is at Via Espana while its recently-opened second campus is at Clayton.
Take note, the school has a limited number of slots for enrollment. Despite this, it’s one of the biggest schools in the country. It has around 1,925 students, and their school year follows the March-December schedule.
11. Oxford School
This international school isn’t the same as the Oxford International School mentioned above. Nevertheless, it remains one of the best schools in Panama City. Opened in 1984, the Oxford School was the first-ever private British school in the country.
With that, it adheres to the National Curriculum of England. Located near Edison Park at Transismica Street, Oxford School offers the standard Pre-K to 12th Grade curriculum. Except for the Social Studies classes, all classes use English.
Its school year spans between March and December. The Ministry of Education, as well as the England Cambridge University, certifies students who graduate there.
12. Istituto Italiano Enrico Fermi
This school makes its home in Panama City, and it has a curriculum that spans Pre-Kindergarten up to 12th grade. Unlike most international schools, this institution isn’t bilingual. After all, they teach Spanish, Italian, and English.
The Istituto Italiano Enrico Fermi also has a diverse school body. You can expect to meet children of about 30 various nationalities in this school. The good news is that your child isn’t required to know Italian to enter, but they have classes that will allow them to learn how to read and write the language.
13. Canadian International School of Panama
This institution is bilingual, and it conducts its classes using both English and Spanish. Their focus is leadership by letting them do different educational activities. They use a practical approach to develop their students’ skills and talents.
The Canadian International School of Panama adopts the March-December schedule. You can expect high-quality education since its campus has lots of different facilities. They have the standard classrooms, libraries, and computer rooms along with a leadership classroom.
Enroll Your Kids at a Panamanian International School Today!
Panama is an ideal country for education. Its high literacy rate and a long list of prestigious institutions bear witness to it. That’s why if you’re looking to move in, check the list if you plan to enroll your child.
That way, you’ll get only the best education for them. They deserve it.
That said, these aren’t the only schools in Panama. There are more to discover and other amazing details about Panamanian life. It’s one of the most exciting places to visit, whether to relax or for work and school.
If you found this guide informative, why not read more of our posts today? You may uncover new facts about Panama, right in time for your next big vacation!
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