How is school in Panama?
The children in Panama start school at the age of 6. Before that, they go to the “children”, the kindergarten, which is actually called that here. Primary school lasts six years. This is followed by another three years at secondary school. Whoever completes this, usually at the age of 15, receives a certificate of “basic education” (Certificado de Educación Básica General). The subjects include English, natural sciences, math, music, sports, art, but also typing (“typing”) and commerce. School is compulsory up to the 9th grade.
Those who continue to go to school can take their Abitur after three years. This is called Bachillerato here. 75 percent of boys and 81 percent of girls go to secondary school.
School year and grades in Panama
Like in neighboring countries, the school year in Panama begins in February and ends in November or December. Then several weeks of vacation follow. The school year is divided into three trimesters. There are certificates after each trimester. Grades range from 1 to 5, with 5 being the best! A 4 is good, a 3 is satisfactory, a 2 is sufficient and a 1 is insufficient.
Not everyone goes to school
97 percent of children go to school – so 3 percent don’t. Most of the time, family poverty means that children are not sent to school. Although Panama does not charge school fees, books, exercise books, a school uniform and sometimes the way to school have to be paid for by bus. Because there are particularly many poor families among the indigenous population, they are particularly affected by a lack of schooling.
6 percent of adults cannot read. Among young people between the ages of 15 and 24, the proportion is 2 percent for boys and 3 percent for girls.
How are the children in Panama?
As a country located in Central America according to localtimezone, Panama is economically sound and politically stable. However, there are problems in Panama too. 23 percent of the population lives in poverty, 3 percent even in extreme poverty. Children from poor families do not have enough to eat, they do not go to school or they have to work.
6 percent of the children in Panama work. That is 8 percent of the boys and 3 percent of the girls. They toil on plantations for sugar cane, coffee, bananas and melons. Others work in factories, in fishing or as domestic workers. Some clean shoes, wash car windows or sell goods on the street.
There have been increased efforts on the part of the state to combat child labor in recent years. 239 officers were trained in 2013 to detect child labor. Seven of them specialize in child labor.
In El Chorrillo or Curundú, two notorious neighborhoods of Panama City, children often come under the influence of street gangs. Drug trafficking and violence become part of everyday life.
Children from poor families are also more likely to be ill. They get diarrhea from unclean water. Because they don’t sleep under mosquito nets, they get malaria. Those who are poor, on the other hand, cannot afford a doctor or medication and die far more often from diseases that are actually curable.
Christmas in Panama?
Christmas at 30 degrees in the shade? We can hardly imagine that. In Panama, however, it is no different. Nevertheless, neither Christmas lights nor Christmas trees are missing. They are mostly artificial, but decorated all the more colorfully. They are also set up at the beginning of December or at least one week before Christmas. The artificial branches don’t needles either!
Catholic families attend Christmas mass on Christmas Eve. Before or afterwards everyone gathers for a feast. Tamales and stuffed turkey are part of Christmas dinner for many Panamanians. Rice and potato salad are typical side dishes. In many families, however, the festive character is missing. After dinner you turn on the TV and it’s a bit like other days.
But: at midnight you wish Feliz navidad, i.e. Merry Christmas, and the presents are distributed. There are also fireworks!
Oh how nice is Panama!
Do you know the story of the little tiger and the little bear who want to travel to Panama? “Oh, how beautiful Panama is” they state in it – when they arrive back home after a long journey and think they are in Panama!
How can it really be in Panama? Can you think of anything about Panama? Or your parents? You probably think of the Panama Canal or the Panama Hat first. Incidentally, this straw hat is not even made in Panama, but has been in Ecuador since 1630. Because everything made in South America is only exported to the USA via PanamaThe hats got the Panama customs stamp – and in the USA they were called the Panama hat. The Panama hat is woven from the straw of a specific type of palm. In the Spanish-speaking countries it is called Sombrero Panamá or Jipijapa. You can buy it anywhere in Panama.
The everyday life in Panama but of course differs from other things of your everyday life. For example, most families tend to have small apartments or houses. Children share a room. You shower… with cold water! But it is warm all year round, so it is more refreshing than having to shiver. Many families also have less furniture than is usual with us.
In the morning you eat something warm. What else to eat can be found under Eating in Panama.
The people are friendly and helpful. When you meet someone you know, you ask about his and your whole family’s well-being. On the other hand, punctuality is not important. Everything is seen a little more loosely. If you don’t come today, will you come tomorrow!