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Education Program Report: Ngäbe-Buglé Students Back in School

Updated: Oct 13, 2022

The Basilio Perez Scholarship Fund

Meet three grandchildren of program founder Basilio Perez.

  • Enelda (center) is studying criminology in her third year at the University of Panama. “I really enjoy detective work, studying evidence, fingerprints,” she noted.

  • David (right) is currently working in a food warehouse, supporting his cousin Enelda and himself. He graduated from high school and plans to get his driver’s license soon and attend a truck driving school.

  • Eynar (left) lives with his aunt in the city and works cleaning offices in the evening. He’s in the 10th grade in a public school and plans to study computer technology.

These three recipients of Native Future scholarship funds exemplify the determination required to overcome obstacles in the pursuit of education. They are so appreciative of donor support!

Remote learning has been a setback for students everywhere. As hard as it’s been in the USA, the impact on isolated indigenous students in Panama has been especially dramatic:

  • Few have internet, devices or monthly payments available to connect to their teachers.

  • Writing materials and books require cash. This indigenous area is one of the most remote and economically disadvantaged in Panama. For facts, visit:

  • Cell phone service and internet access exist in only a few communities, and are often unavailable.

  • Demands at home can take precedence over studies.

Over the last two years, Native Future has invested over $40,000 in education funds via four local organizations in this region. They purchased cell phones, computers, and materials to assist students of families actively engaged in service to their communities, and supported students working and studying in cities. With food and other basic needs in short supply, sponsoring organizations were encouraged to use education funds to provide critical help where needed.

Moving Forward

The good news? These young folks are resilient, fast learners, and eager to help their families. Isolation isn’t new to these communities; their history is one of living apart, close to nature. However, technology is bringing radical shifts as youth aspire to continue their studies and find

their way in a modern society. Even with remote learning, most students have to leave their Indigenous communities to study and work. A few have returned and settled in the Comarca, near their roots.

Pictured here is Marisol, the first of three Basilio Perez scholarship recipients in 2001 to attend high school in the nearest city, Santiago. She not only is one of the first in El Jacinto to receive a high school diploma but went on to receive an advanced accounting certification. She is now an administrator in the regional town office.

As education systems in Panama improve, the teaching of environmental issues, climate change challenges, food sustainability, and respect for one’s cultural identity is increasing. Thanks to our donors, these young folks are given the opportunity that they deserve to grow, learn, and test their mettle as they enter adulthood in these challenging times.

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