Badi School, Panama

Badi School started in 1993 as a kindergarten in the carport of a trailer home. The school is now a K-12 school serving 450 students, of whom 57% are girls. Badi is recognized for excellence in academics, arts, music and technology programs impacting the lives of thousands in the neighboring communities.

About the project

Badi School started as a kindergarten in a carport over 25 years ago. It has grown into an impressive K-12 institution that serves 400 students from one of the poorest areas of Panama City. Despite the surrounding conditions, the school ranks as one of the best in Panama.

Badi now has 400 students and is completely self-sufficient. It is widely acknowledged as one of the best schools in South and Central America with all of its graduates receiving full scholarships to the finest universities in Panama and the United States. Beyond this significant achievement, the school’s service to the wider community has transformed the surrounding area into a thriving neighborhood that is committed to the education of children and service to all those in need. The Mona Foundation currently provides only small annual grants in support of Badi’s scholarship and arts programs.

Their arts program starts in 7th grade and gradually teaches more complex techniques, surpassing the University of Panama. The computer lab is Linux based, allowing it to be low maintenance and low energy consumption, which runs completely on recently installed solar panels.


How we help

Badi School is a great example of what the Mona Foundation seeks to support.   It started as an after school tutoring program in the carport of a trailer home where the Torrez family lived. Over time, and through the sacrificial efforts of this selfless family, the program grew to a Kindergarten with 7 students and then to a First Grade with 15 students.  A few years later, once the school had matured to the point it could receive funding from an external agency, the Mona Foundation stepped in to support its development to a full K-12 school. With the help of our generous donors and amazing Board, we initially provided a limited number of scholarships and gradually increased our investment over several years to build additional classrooms, a library, a common room, and technology and science labs, and to support the music, arts, and character development programs.

COVID-19 has brought with it unparalleled challenges to schools striving to provide access to safe, high quality education. Badi School has faced several technological and economic challenges, which they are solving step by step.

Some upcoming challenges:

  • Suspension of tuition payments due to parents with financial deficiencies
  • New requirements from the Ministry of Education
  • Lack of funds to cover teacher salaries
  • Lack of human resources to take on new challenges
  • Reopening logistics for 2021

Unexpected needs:

  • Zoom is the platform best known by the students, the payment for this service is around $400 USD a month
  • Need to provide additional Partial Scholarships (increase from 15 currently to 50 in total)
  • Digitizing several books that the school has published in order to offer them for free ($2,400)
  • Create a new database system for grades ($3,000)



Out of a population of 4 million, around 42,000 residents have been infected with COVID-19. Movement is still restricted and the country’s economy has been severely affected. A reopening plan classified in 5 Steps is being implemented, currently at Step 2 and schools are to reopen at Step 4.

The school year in Panama runs from March – December. March 2nd was the first day of school and on March 11th all classes were suspended “for a few days” as there was much uncertainty. To date, around 4,000 public schools and around 2,000 private schools are closed and have not been able to transition their education online.

Badí School built an online platform in the first weekend of the closure with the support of 3 Information Technology experts. There was great uncertainty at the national level regarding to the operation of the schools, Badí School changed its website into an online platform to continue with the online classes.

On April 15th the government requested all online classes be suspended and on April 21st a list of new requirements where established that all schools had to adhere to. Schools had to then submit a request to continue teaching online and prove that they adhered to these new requirements. Badí School accomplished the full list of new requirements and submitted for evaluation in less than two days. The government approved their curriculum with pleasure and expressed surprise at their immediate response.

By April 25th less than a 170 private schools requested to continue teaching online. Almost one third of the schools that requested permission to transition to online classes closed in June due to technology failure, no approval or financial problems. Meanwhile, Badí School has successfully accomplished four months of online teaching. This accomplishment has not been without its challenges but the capable administration team has been problem solving every step of the way.

Badi School has faced several technological and economic challenges, which they are solving step by step. They have helped several parents financially by providing tuition discounts or loans. The school has not received any financial aid from the Government yet were able to pay the full salary to all the teachers and service providers.

Despite all the challenges that came with transitioning online, Badi School has continued to be creative in their approach and been able to offer extracurricular activities including:

  • Reading circles
  • Project development
  • Art
  • Experts invited for class support
  • Music
  • Human Values ​​Reading Circles
  • Guest appearances by famous authors

Some upcoming challenges:

  • Suspension of tuition payments due to parents with financial deficiencies
  • New requirements from the Ministry of Education
  • Lack of funds to cover teacher salaries
  • Lack of human resources to take on new challenges
  • Reopening logistics for 2021

Unexpected needs:

  • Zoom is the platform best known by our students, the payment for this service is around $400 USD a month
  • Need to provide additional Partial Scholarships (increase from 15 currently to 50 in total)
  • Digitizing several books that they have published in order to offer them for free ($2,400)
  • Create a new database system for grades ($3,000)

From its start in 1993 as a kindergarten in a carport, Badi School has grown into an impressive K-12 institution and has been recognized for excellence, both in Panama and internationally by the Ibero-American Council on Education (comprised of universities and other educational organizations from Spain, the U.S. and Latin America) as one of the best. Recognized not only for its excellent academic education but also for its outstanding programs in arts, music, computer technology, and community service.

Despite their disadvantaged backgrounds, Badi School students have earned the highest scores in national exams, won awards in the arts and film and have been accepted at prestigious universities in Panama and the U.S., many with scholarships because of their excellent academic record and history of community service.

Moral leadership education and community service are woven throughout the Badi School curriculum. Students are recognized for their good character as well as their academic achievement. In 2015, a group of students from the 9th, 10th and 11th grades received second place in a national short film festival for their film on how to change someone who bullies into an agent of positive change. The film was shown nationally and impacted many students around the country and inspired other schools to promote good values.

On August 2017, Badi School decided to participate in a world cultural day for 31thOctober 2017.  They planned to have 300 people among parents, friends and neighbors attending the event, and invited two jazz music bands and also prepared our students to present a play about the Persian History, named “Revelation of Light”. The first challenge they faced was to investigate and write the script in only one weekend, then to practice it, create the costumes, curtains, lights and scenographic details. Additionally they needed to build the stage, rent chairs and tents, and prepare food and refreshments.  They sent the invitations two weeks in advance and that night they had 562 people attend. All of them were very happy, expressing their gratitude and praise for having been invited to a special cultural and family night. More than 50 parents assisted and more than 100 students were involved with different tasks.

Jessica was a slow learner and not doing well in class. But when she entered the Arts Program, she became very enthusiastic, often staying at the school longer than her friends to practice her art. She did beautiful paintings and demonstrated a tremendous capability for the arts and a strong desire to learn more which affected her whole academic career as well.  She graduated with honors from Badi School and later also graduated with honors from college. One year later, she opened her own art gallery and in 2015, she received a national award sponsored by the Panama National Institute of Culture. She came back to teach art at Badi School and in 2016 will pursue a Master of Arts degree.

Badi School, which started in 1993 as a kindergarten in the carport of a trailer home, is an impressive K-12 school, serving 400 students. The school is recognized for excellence in academics, arts, music and technology programs impacting the lives of thousands in the neighboring communities.  Nearly half the families in this area are homeless.

Monica Espinosa and Madelaine Rodríguez, both indigenous Panamian, came from this area. They would have probably been lost to poverty. But Badi School found them, embraced them, and started unlocking their potential, and here is the result:

This past year they were awarded 1st place in a national contest hosted by the Ministry of Education in the category of sciences research! They were invited to the International Science and Engineering Fair in Tucson, Arizona by the Organization of American States and the Intel Company to present their findings. In a competition including 1,500 students, Monica and Madelaine’s research was awarded 2nd Place. Mona Foundation provided $50/month scholarships to enable these two girls to go to school.

Dareleen Cano was a beautiful 12 year old girl that visited the school in 2005 and at the behest of her grandmother, her sole caregiver, Dareleen was offered a 50% partial scholarship, and enrolled in the 7th grade. During the first year the school realized her needs, dedication and commitment and offered her another 25% to have a 75% scholarship for the rest of her studies. In two years she obtained high average and was on Honor Roll. The fourth year she painted a mural world map (planisphere) in one of the walls of the school which stills exist. She graduated in 2016 with honors and was awarded a full scholarship to the Panama Technological University to study Industrial Engineering. During her graduation ceremony, Badi School presented her grandmother with a golden medal to recognize her efforts to educate her granddaughter which she did by washing and ironing clothes. Dareleen is currently working as a Statistics Manager at COPA/Continental Airlines. She has since bought an apartment and brought her grandmother to live with her.

Help us fund the growth plan of this well-recognized school in 2019

Click on each of the suggested donation amounts below to see what your investment in education of children and youth can support in this school.

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2019 Achievements

Served 450 students and trained 30 teachers

Scholarships provided to 19 students 

162 parents empowered, strengthening the family nucleus as protagonists of social transformation

30 students received music training

Published text on “The Power of Pure Actions” for high school classes on empowerment through good behavior.

2020 Project Goals

  • Provide scholarships for 19 students, $9,434
  • Support for the Arts Program benefiting 250 students, $2,800
  • Publication of homegrown curriculum (not available elsewhere) on Arduino Robotics, Virtues Program, $4,050
  • Support for the music and band program for 30 students, 1 Band Director and 1 music teacher who teaches clarinet once a week, $2,520

Change a life!

Give $50 a month to support the education of one student for a year

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