With strong cultural ties to natural resources and a large tourism sector, Panama upholds robust environmental protections. The government supports environmental education programs across multiple levels of schooling. In addition, international organizations such as the United Nations partner with Panama to foster environmental education and the protection of its environment.
Policy & Practice
The 114th article of the Constitution of Panama establishes that “it is a fundamental duty of the State to guarantee that the population lives in a healthy and free of contamination environment.” The 106th article determines that “it corresponds to the State [...] to [t]rain the individual and the social groups through educative actions that divulge the knowledge of individual and collective rights and duties in personal and environmental health”. The 48th article of the General Act of Environment (Act 41) says that is “ is the duty of the State to divulge information or programs about the conservation of the environment and the sustainable exploitation of natural resources, also to promote educative and cultural activities of environmental character.”
EE in K-12 Education
The Education Ministry includes environmental education as one of its core subjects. Accordingly, the government of Panama has implemented environmental education topics in the preschool education program and in basic education. In addition, the government has also been working with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to develop a series of didactic guides of environmental education that help teachers communicate with their students.
There are not any official certification programs for environmental educators in Panama. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Environment offers a series of courses and distinctions regarding environmental topics, some of them specialized in environmental education. There are also some associations that offer online courses for the people who are interested in increasing their professional engagement with environmental education.
Environmental educators may be interested in ANCON, one of the most important national associations dedicated to the preservation of biodiversity and natural resources in Panama. They strive to foster respect and love for the local environment.
EE in National Government
The Ministry of Education created the National Department of Environmental Education in order to “make the educational community aware of the importance of its participation in the protection, preservation, and use of natural resources”.
National EE Campaigns and Funding
Panama is part of several regional efforts for protecting the environment and that include the promotion of environmental education. Some of these regional associations are the Convention for the Conservation of Biodiversity and Protection of Priority Wilderness Areas in Central America, the Regional Convention on Climate Change, and the Regional Convention for the Management and Conservation of Natural Ecosystems, and the Forestry and Forest Plantation Development. Environmental education in Panama receives funding both from the public and the private sector. The budget of the Ministries of Environment and Education is the main source of funding for environmental education while several non-governmental organizations also contribute a significant amount.