Preparing for school in Panama
Children take off their shoes and roll up their pants as they head to school in Panama.
It's a half hour trek which includes passing through a 165 foot river.
This in a country where the growth rate is expected to hit 9 percent through the year.
Student Carlos Bacorizo
SOUNDBITE: Student Carlos Bacorizo, saying: (Spanish):
"The main problem is getting to school. If the water levels are high and there is no one to help us then we are separated and sometimes arrive late to school,"
Far from the flashy skyscrapers of its lively capital, the dusty towns of the country's provinces struggle with only the most basic services and infrastructure.
Out of 139 nations, Panama's primary education ranks 129, according to the World Economic Forum. The school curriculum has barely changed since the 1970s
SOUNDBITE: Director of the Instituto Comercial Bolivar, Monick Hurtado, saying: (Spanish):
"We know our education system is about 25 years behind. It is a necessity to reform our education system and we cannot wait any longer."
Business experts say that without a dramatic change, Panama's flagging school system could soon slam the breaks on its surging economy.
Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters