My impression of the schools in Puerto is that they are adequate, but in no way provide the best education in Panama.
I have personally attended 3 of the schools here in Puerto.
Although, the longest that I ever attended one of these schools was four months. This is because the style of teaching is so different from what it is in the US.
Lots of Copy Work
In the schools here, the teacher has the only text book in the class. So a lot of the time spent in class is occupied with either copying your down your lessons off the white board, or
copying down your homework. For some reason the school system seems allergic to printing out worksheets.
I’ve heard from several of my friends that still attend school here, that they only go to school to see their friends. The quality of learning leaves much to be desired, and the curriculum is mediocre at best.
The students learn math and history and the other essentials, but the there seems to be no emphasis on reading or continuing your education beyond high school.
There are good things too, for example in some schools you can play a variety of sports and can learn many of the traditional dances. All the schools have a marching band, and they all participate in a yearly city parades.
If you’re looking into schools here there are a few things you might want to know.
First, of all the schools here Escuela Secondario de Puerto Armuelles (ESPA) is the largest and most highly recommended in town. From what I’ve heard it also has the highest standard for learning. It is also the only one with a band with instruments, other than the drum and xylophone.
You may also want to read a post I (Betsy) wrote about schools in Panama. It includes a short video of my daughter Skylar in her 1st grade class here in Panama.
Collegio San Antonio
Among the other schools here, the one I attended most recently was San Antonio. San Antonio is known as one of the higher profile schools in town. This school is a three in one: elementary, middle, and high school, all in one large building. It has kept up a reputation as a fairly good school for the last 50 years. However it’s elementary school is known to be poorer quality then some of the others in town. The middle school is supposed to be one of the best. San Antonio was the school that made me
decide that the Panamanian school system was not for me.
Las Palmas School
The last school on this short list is the Las Palmas school, which is located, of course, in the Las Palmas neighborhood. This is the school I have attended most frequently, three times to be exact.
My take-away from the Las Palmas School is that it is highly over-estimated. A couple of decades ago, at the end of the Chiquita years, the Las Palmas school was the best in town. And now over twenty years later people still believe it to be one of the best schools.
However the truth is that with the contribution of bad principals and teachers, the school has deteriorated. This school is supposedly bilingual, but from my experience the school’s English teachers speak worse English then an American five year old. That may be a bit harsh, but it’s the truth.
The students I’ve met that have attended the Las Palmas school can barely string together a sentence in English.
Oh fun fact before I go, the original Las Palmas school building was burnt to the ground, maybe in hopes of erasing it from the school system. But is was rebuilt, and sadly still features ever the decreasing teaching and learning standards taught there.
This is, of course, only a brief summery of the most popular schools here in Puerto.
I have provided a list of all schools in Puerto Armuelles at the end of the article, as well as
their geographical locations.
If you can’t find one of the schools on the map you may have to ask around town.
If you would like more information about a particular school ask me in the comments.
Thanks for reading.
List Of Schools:
- Colegio San Antonio
- Las Palmas school
- Escuela Tomas Armuelles
- Escuela Secondario de Puerto Armuelles (ESPA)
- Escuela El Buen Pastor
- Escuela Monte Verde
- Escuela Los Angeles
- Escuela San Vicente
- Instituto Puerto Armuelles
- Escuela Adventista de Baru
This article was written by my 14 year old daughter, Skylar Vayda. Over the winter, Skylar will be writing a Panama-related articles. She will be picking the topic. We hope you enjoy them.
P.S. School starts here in just a few days -Monday, Feb. 29, 2016.
As a student of Las Palmas Elemenary School and Colegio San Antonio I must say that I am quite sad after reading this article. Some of the comments are harsh. I can share with you my experience as a “porteño” during the good old days of the Chiriqui Land Company. Las Palmas Elementary School was the best. We were taught by American teachers using American books. We were fluent in English and in Spanish. These were the 70´s. Puerto Armuelles was prosperous with all the money coming in because of the “green gold”. Las Palmas School suffered two fires. The… Read more »
My husband and I are coming to visit Panama in the hopes of relocating there with our kids, 10 and 2 years of age. We are looking at 4 different towns, including Puerto, throughout Panama to see what each has to offer and what would work best for us. Obviously schools are very important to us. We want a nice mixture of English and Spanish in the schools since we speak English and very little Spanish. I do hope that the kids will pick up on the language quickly but fear total immersion will discourage them when learning in school.… Read more »