Neighborhoods and Schools
Where one chooses to live in Panama City depends very much on whether one has children or not and what ages they are. The best areas for single people and couples without children will be on the coastal beltway (the Cinta Costera) in the district Bella Vista, which affords wonderful views of the Bay of Panama, as well as recreational amenities.
Punta Paitilla, Punta Pacifica and San Francisco are other high-rise areas. Suburban housing in free-standing homes is very rare in Panama. Costa del Este, a newly established neighborhood halfway between the city and the airport, is also an option. It is well-laid out and planned and quite upmarket. There is also a huge private school, Colegio San Agustin, but the medium of instruction is Spanish.
There are a number of English medium private schools scattered about the city, with three of the best-known ones located in Clayton (in the old Canal Zone). Two of them are located inside the City of Knowledge (Ciudad del Saber), a kind of Techno Park that is also home to a number of UN agencies and international companies. One of the schools is the Metropolitan School of Panama, which opened its doors in 2011 and has already built up a good reputation. They are currently offering classes to student in grades Pre-Kinder 3 to 10th grade and will expand one grade per year until they reach 12th grade.
There are 520 students of 38 different nationalities. (http://www.themetropolitanschool.com). The second school in the City of Knowledge is the Balboa Academy (located in the the former Canal Zone U.S. high school, which has been around for much longer). It was founded in its post-USA canal incarnation in 1999 and offers an English language, US accredited education program from prekindergarten through to 12th grade for students of all nationalities.
The curriculum is that of a college-preparatory school in the US and all students receive a US diploma. (http://www.balboaacademy.org) Very close to these schools and located just outside the City of Knowledge is the British School of Panama, Clayton, a part of the King’s Group, one of the largest and most successful international school groups that deliver the National Curriculum of England and Wales.
They follow the English National Curriculum, taught by qualified and experienced British teacher. From September 2012 enrolment has been open to children from Nursery (aged 3) through to Year 5 (ages 9 and 10). After the first year the children in Year 5 will move into Year 6 and in this way each year the school will grow to include older children, right up to IGCSEs and eventually A levels. (http://kingscollege.com.pa) Panamanian universities are not highly regarded, except for the catholic university Santa Maria la Antigua. Florida State University has a branch campus in the City of Knowledge, offering a broad curriculum in English, plus the largest English-language library in Panama.
The University of Louisville (Kentucky) also has a facility in Panama City offering a non-degree undergraduate programme which prepares students for eventual study at the university’s US Belknap campus. In Clayton and the adjacent Albrook area it is possible to rent free-standing houses, but there is also a wide selection of apartments and townhouses available. The US Embassy happens to be located in Clayton. Clayton is very close to the Albrook Shopping Centre.
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