Tag Archives: English-Schools-in-Panama

A Hard Year

Black girls as much as Black boys,
had to deal with depression as it was
very widespread amongst Westindian
adolescents. Image

By the end of 1950 I was almost sure to be graduating from my sixth grade class at Escuela Pedro J. Sosa. And yet, I felt peculiarly imprisoned, in stir, as a prison-like attitude dominated my thoughts. My teachers had a lot to do with these feelings as they were pretty hard faced and indiscreet about openly rejecting the Westindian youngsters like me. Continue reading

African Derived Spiritual Home and Schooling


It has always been my belief that the lack of that ingrained sense of a cultural heritage in us Panamanian Westindians has been due to the missing factor of home and schooling. Home schooling had always been an integral part of our make-up in the early years of our history, however as that marvel of the world the Panama Canal evolved, the issue of our home becoming part of our cultural and spiritual lesson plan became less important or non existent. Continue reading

The Westindian Community Receives Assistance

My school, Pedro J. Sosa, founded in 1933,
was one of the schools at the center of the
storm of racial persecution by their own
teachers against children of Westindian
descent.

The 1946 laws, reinforcing the exclusionary and rejecting policies of the 1941 Constitution, could not be clearer. Schools were a business and Westindians were not at all welcomed as businessmen. Nor were they organized enough to gain the economic power to meet the requirements individually. As I’ve noted before, this was a time when there were no banks and the Banco Nacional was basically off limits to Westindians. At any rate, the $15,000 required to start any business was certainly not available to open any English School. Continue reading

Harassment Against the Prohibited Immigrants

The image was taken from a special issue of
The Panama Tribune which highlighted the
achievements of some of the more well known
Westindian English Teachers in our community
during the ’40′s.

With my head resting on the desk sitting beside a classmate I could not confide my most inner feelings to, I closed my eyes trying to blot out the memory of the incident in fifth grade when the teacher had unmercifully torn up my masterpiece of an essay. Continue reading

Training Teachers of Excellence

Columbia University Teacher’s College in N.Y.

Columbia University Teacher’s College
New York City

Although the Panamanian and Canal Zone governments school authorities have never truly recognized the efforts and accomplishments of the Westindian neighborhood schools, to the people of the area they were recognized as communal schools. They persevered despite all the social and institutional obstacles they encountered and even produced some of the best minds. Continue reading

Teacher’s Lash

When I view this image of an old
Victorian schoolmaster switching
one of his students, I’m reminded of
Teacher Phillips’ Lash. Image courtesy
of The Archivist

My story begins on one of those tropical winter mornings after a night of incessant rains; by morning the day would be clear and sunny. The morning light went by us unperceived, however, and no one in our house remembered to wake us up for school. Continue reading