Panama City - Post Report Question and Answers

What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

The Metropolitan, St George, International School of Panama and Balboa are international schools with good curricula. - Dec 2021

Lots of school choice! My little ones go to a local Spanish-speaking school. Most go to Balboa, Metropolitan, or the Int'l School. People seem happy with their respective choices. - Oct 2018

Many schools with different areas of focus. Christian/Secular, IB/AP, large/small, and people seem genuinely happy with the school they choose. I have heard that they are hard to get into, but that does not seem to be an issue since no one is complaining. - Sep 2018

Good to great schools. - May 2017

Most are very good I've heard. - Oct 2015

Balboa Academy, Metropolitan School of Panama, Kings College, Christian Crossroads Academy, International School of Panama. Our kids went to the Metropolitan School where teachers are very nice, loving and caring. Our kids are very happy there and their after school activities are great. The school focuses a lot on reading, technology (iPad, computers) etc, however, math level seems to be lower than Panama and marginally lower than the U.S. standard. Students are always encouraged to speak English except for Spanish classes so it's not easy for non-Spanish speakers to learn Spanish unless you work with the teachers or speak Spanish at home. Other international schools are similar when it comes to Spanish. The school doesn't believe in helping young gifted and talented students, however, the homeroom teacher tried to help on her own. It worked out excellent for us because they were willing to work with every single issue we had. I would highly recommend them! - Jun 2015

There are several options to choose from. About 60% of the embassy kids attend the Metropolitan School and the rest either attend ISP or Balboa. ISP has very nice facilities but they are located on the other side of town with a long commute. The ISP bus picks up students in my neighboorhood in Clayton at 06:15 am for an 8 am start. In contrast, my kids who attend nearby MET get picked up by the bus at 07:40 am for their 8 am start. I only have experience at the MET and I am pleased with the school. I think other parents are overall happy with the schools at Balboa and ISP as well. The only negative thing I've heard about those schools are some stories of bullying because they have more of an upper class Panamanians student body which does not seem to welcome non-Spanish speaking foreigners. One thing to note about Panamanian society in general--girls' sports are not a valued part of the culture here as it is in the U.S. One can find many boys teams playing soccer and baseball in the parks on the weekends but no girls at all. The MET has an active co-ed swim team and a girls volleyball team. They have been able to field a girls basketball team. I heard Balboa has a girls' flag football team among a few others. Boys have many more options. - May 2015

I hear the schools are great! - Sep 2014

At least 3 good international schools: ISP, Balboa and the MET. One of my kids went to Balboa for pre-K 3 and 4 and then we put both kids at the MET and we are very happy with them. Very international, innovative, fun and culturally sensitive school. - Jul 2014

They do have several international schools here. Schools, however, aren't very important to Panamanians. When there was an energy crisis last year, the first thing they did was shut down the schools (k-12 and universities). The first school my son attended cancelled their 4-year-old program altogether, saying the Ministry of Education provides no curriculum support and they didn't want to develop a program on their own, so we had to find him a new school. I was okay with that, though, because I don't think he was learning anything at that first school, it seemed like the teachers were much more concerned with posting selfies on Facebook than actually teaching anything. There's an enormous gulf between the international schools and the local schools. Bear in mind that the international schools require a ~US$10,000 "capital donation" when your kid enrolls, in addition to all of the enrollment, tuition, and materials fees. - Mar 2014

Excellent international schools are one of the many reasons that Panama is a great family post. Balboa Academy, the Metropolitan, Kings College, Christian Crossroads Academy, International School of Panama, the Boston School, and others all have good reputations. You should look at the websites of each to find the best fit for your child. Think about foreign language instruction, (there are also French, Greek, Jewish, and Italian schools...), commute time from where you live, length of school day, extra-curricular activities, religion, etc., which differ between each, but all parents I've met seem happy with their children's school. - Jan 2013

Balboa Academy for the tweens. - Apr 2010

3 schools most families use, International School of Panama, Balboa Academy and Christian Cross Roads - Dec 2009

I don't have direct experience with schools since my child is not old enough, but I hear Balboa is good. Although you have to pay a hefty non-refundable initiation fee per child. - May 2008

We had our children in ISP and are thoroughly dissapointed. The children have not found the school to be stimulating or challenging. The teachers are not responsive to the students' needs. We now regret not having placed them in Balboa Academy. Other families staying longer have pulled their children out of ISP to place them in Balboa. As we are preparing to depart, it was not a choice for us. This said, I have met a parent who likes ISP so you may want to consider them both. - Apr 2008


Subscribe to our newsletter

New book from Talesmag! Honest and courageous stories of life abroad with special needs.

Read More