The School System

Information on the education system in Panama, from pre-primary to higher education, as well as the opportunities available for special needs education...

Certain levels of education are compulsory for all children living in Panama, while others, such as pre-school and upper secondary school, remain optional.

Pre-school Education

Some of Panama's schools and pre-schools offer classes called "maternales" for toddlers. These daycare facilities accept children from the age of one year and eight months and provide childcare for up to four hours a day.

Kindergarten is compulsory when a child turns five years old. The school year starts in March and the child must be five by May to attend, or wait another year.

Primary and Lower Secondary Education

There are six years of primary education (primaria), beginning in grade one at the age of six, followed by three years of lower secondary education (premedia), beginning in grade seven and ending in grade nine.

Both primeria and premedia education is compulsory and free of charge in Panama.

Upper Secondary Education

There are three additional years of secondary education (educaciĆ³n media) available, from grades 10 to 12. These are optional, however, and fees will be payable.

Assessment System

Secondary schools in both public and private Panamanian schools operate a five point assessment system, in which level three is a pass. If a student fails four or more courses within the same year or if they fail the same course twice consecutively, they will not progress to the next grade and may be transferred to another school.

Higher Education

Once a student has successfully completed secondary education, they may continue their studies at a public or private university.

There are many universities in Panama City, many of them affiliated with universities in Canada or the US.

The following documents need to be provided for enrollment:

  • Health certificate
  • Passport or ID card (cedula)
  • Previous school transcripts notarized in the country of issue and authenticated by the Panamanian consulate in that country