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Improving the years of schooling of the employed population 

August 29, 2011

A recent report by the Economic Analysis Division, Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) reveals that the years of schooling of the employed population 15 and older in the Republic of Panama, improved from 9.7 years in 2005 to 10.1 years in 2010. This improvement represents an increase of 4.1% in the years of schooling from 2005 to 2010.

According to the document, the indigenous population occupied the Emberá in 2005 was just 3.4 years of schooling, yet he had a slight increase in 2010, increasing to 4.5 years of schooling in 2010.

In terms of educational attainment of the employed population 15 and older in 2010, the report shows that 18% achieved complete primary, incomplete secondary 22.3%, 21.9% completed high school, 24.4% completed some academic year and 1.8% met with programs of other categories of teaching.

Unfortunately, the report also shows that 11.5% did not receive an education, that is, not complete primary education or did not possess at least one year of education. However, despite this, the report also shows that during the years 2005-2010 the percentage of employed persons with incomplete primary education under 1.7%. The proportion fell to 2.7% completed primary school, as a result of the transition of people from primary to secondary.

The study emphasizes that when making a distribution by income decile, we observe that the years of schooling and labor income are correlated significantly. Thus, in the first and fourth decile, education ranged from 5 to 8.5 years and pay monthly labor between 50 and 265 dollars respectively. In the tenth decile, there is a school of 14 years, or twice the schooling and labor income to US$1.119 quintuple.

From the fourth decile share of people who do not have a grade or have not completed primary school, begins to decrease sharply. By contrast, the share of those in high school or a full academic year increased, 20.8% in the fourth decile and 28.1% in the ninth, but 19.7% in the tenth because more than half of those 60.5% had access to higher education.

MEF explained in his report that the quality of employment to which they can choose and labor income to be earned, are a reflection of the level of schooling achieved by people of different socioeconomic strata. The lower the levels of formal education achieved, the poorer people. Low schooling is a major barrier for the poor to formal employment or self-paid more.

Panama has achieved universal primary education and over 90% coverage, however coverage of preschool, Premedia and a half is relatively low. Currently, the dropout rate at primary level is only 3%, but the matter is that dropout rates are considerably premedia and a half high. Nationally, each year 12% of school students and middle premedia drop out. In the most remote and indigenous regions, this percentage is even higher. Primary and secondary education in Panama is free, but the lack of household resources to meet expenses demanded by the school attendance requires youths to desert.

In the country there has been an effective public policy to address the problem of dropouts, but the government now addresses the problem with direct money transfers, as well as books and school supplies. Specifically, the Government currently has several social programs to achieve greater coverage of education and reduce dropout rates, which would help increase the years of schooling of the population in the medium and long term. Some of these programs are "Universal Fellowship" and "provision of free school supplies."

The Universal Fellowship program is a money transfer of US$20 per month per student. The program began with approximately 290,000 students, but government plans between 2012 and 2013 increased to 800,000 students from both public and private schools (only those that cost less than US$1,000 annually, between and monthly fees). The government has said that the Universal Fellowship program drastically decrease the dropout rate.

The money to finance the Universal Fellowship program come from the increase of two percentage points ITBMS tax (a sales tax or value added tax), adopted at the recent tax reform. In fact, one of the arguments used by the government to raise this tax on the recent tax reform was to use part of it to fund programs "Universal Fellowship" and "provision of free school supplies."

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Programa de la Beca Universal reducirá la deserción escolar (Only Spanish)




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