Despite notable achievements in the past decade, including reaching universal coverage at the primary level, by international standards the quality of Panama’s education system continues to lag significantly. Panama ranked 83rd out of a total of 144 countries for the quality of its education system in the World Economic Forum’s “Global Competitiveness Report 2014-15”, down eight places from 75th in the previous year’s report (out of 148 countries) and behind regional neighbours Costa Rica (21st) and El Salvador (63rd). Curricular reform introduced in 2010 has increased pertinence and retention rates, while a strengthening of the accreditation process for universities has also brought about improvements at the tertiary level. However, a disconnect between the educational offering and labour market needs remains a concern. A rising budget and push to expand the post-secondary offer are indicative of the current government’s commitment to improve education outcomes, a move which has become key to ensuring sustainable economic growth.

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