The spirit behind the verbatim records of the 1913 First Panamanian Educational Assembly shows that the system was basically designed to furnish the manpower needs of the new merchant elite. Adult education provision has been organised in the same fashion as the Peruvian Educacion Basica Laboral, and it is an attempt to integrate the dispersed and overlapping efforts of several Ministries and other autonomous agencies. Field interviews with important decision-makers at the Ministry level emphasised the situation as the basic structural constraint on the development of a definitive solution to the problem of literacy and adult education in Panama. The potential contribution of the adult education section of the Ministry is any case restrained by totally inadequate budgetary allocations. Moreover, when important methodological and technical contributions are developed by the very efficient group of experts working in the National Directory of Adult Education, those contributions are reduced or banned.