Differences in the cognitive performance of toddlers, elementary and middle school students, and college-bound seniors tend to follow income and/or poverty status. These differences are further revealed in the increasing stratification of college attendance and graduation. Educational inequalities limit economic and social mobility as well as perpetuate the opportunity gap between rich and poor.
Access to high school education for students from Coclé is difficult as schools are few, transportation is costly, and dormitories are frequently unavailable. This is particularly unsettling, especially after students have demonstrated high aptitudes and learning success through Forum programs such as the Advanced English course available through UTP.
Forum Academy (Academia Forum) was the natural extension of Forum Foundation projects. Following discussions with community leaders and educators, Forum Academy was established to serve a largely-neglected mountain region as well as be a beacon of hope: Children can have both the right and access to a world class education.
The students in this area have a clear desire to learn and possess the ability to excel. The vision for Academia Forum is to provide a high caliber education to the students of Coclé. Acceptance into the program is based on proven performance, aptitude testing, teacher recommendations, and interviews. Equal opportunity is given to both boys and girls, and all students live on campus free of charge. 39 students from 23 middle schools throughout Coclé were accepted into the inaugural class.
Academia Forum offers a three-year program devoted to fulfilling the Panamanian Ministry of Education (MEDUCA) requirements for high school graduation. Academia Forum is authorized to teach the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program curriculum, often considered the international gold standard for high school education. The school is accredited by MEDUCA and opened February 24, 2014.