Even as Bahrain marches ahead in time, the resolve to drive its growth hinges fi rmly on enhancing quality of education to achieve the best human values. As the education scenario in the Arab Kingdom is changing fast, the growth trajectory is marked by a swathe of revolutionary measures, says Rashi Aditi Ghosh of Elets News Network (ENN).
Bahrain’s economic development strategies are built around six sectors of which education and training is one. The educational system in the Kingdom of Bahrain follows nine years of basic education, which includes both the primary and intermediate stages, and three years of secondary education that is divided into various tracks.
The Kingdom has made the nine-year-long basic education compulsory for children between ages 6 and 14 years. All children must be enrolled either in the government schools or the private ones.
The Ministry of Education (MoE) attaches great importance to the development of all educational stages in sync with a carefully studied plan and programmed projects.
The following is a brief description of the various stages of education in Bahrain:
BASIC EDUCATION – Basic education is divided into two stages as follows:
Primary Stage: This stage represents the first formal school ladder in Bahrain and accommodates students of age group 6 – 11. It lasts for six years and is divided into two cycles. The first one includes the first three grades of primary education during which the class-teacher system is applied, whereby a single teacher teaches most of the subjects, except English language, design and technology, music education, and physical education.
The second cycle includes the upper three grades, which too follows the subject-teacher system, whereby each subject is taught by a teacher who has specialised in a specific discipline and obtained educational academic qualifications.
Intermediate Stage: The intermediate stage is considered to be the third cycle and the last one in basic education, which accommodates students of age group 12-14, and lasts for three years. A successful completion of the sixth grade of primary cycle or its equivalent from the literacy education system is a prerequisite to join this stage. The subject-teacher is applied in this stage, whereby each subject is taught by a teacher who has specialised in a specific discipline and obtained educational academic qualifications.
Secondary Stage: This stage is considered to be complementary to basic education and a new phase for the student for preparing him or her to enter universities and higher institutions or directly enter the labour market. It accommodates students of age group 15-17; the duration of study is three years, which is divided into six semesters (three levels).
PRIVATE EDUCATION IN BAHRAIN
The Directorate of Private education with the coordination of the other directorates at the MoE are assisting all the private educational institutes with technical support and assistance such as finding teachers to be appointed; providing free Arabic language, Islamic education, Bahrain history and geography textbooks; and assigning specialists to supervise the teachers of those subject-matters.
Types of private educational institutes in Bahrain: Nurseries: These institutions are under the supervision and control of the Ministry of Social Development. They are run by the women societies and charitable organisations, and individual institutions.
Kindergarten: There are a variety of kindergartens in Bahrain. They are run by the women societies, charitable organisations, individual institutions and others are attached to private schools as an educational level within their systems.
Private Schools: Private schools in Bahrain are of two types:
♦ National Private Schools: These institutions are established and run by Bahraini citizens. These schools have various educational levels, starting from kindergarten, primary, intermediate and secondary. They offer bilingual programs, i.e., subjects are taught in Arabic and English.
♦ Foreign Private Schools: These schools have various educational levels, starting from kindergarten, primary, intermediate and secondary. Arabic language is taught in all foreign schools that accept Arab students in addition to Islamic education for all Muslim students.
♦ Foreign Community Schools: They are established and financed by foreign communities in the State of Bahrain for the purpose of educating their children only.
♦ Educational Institutes and Centres: These institutions are different because of the variation of the programmes they offer. Some of them follow the commercial establishments and others follow individual Bahraini citizens. They offer training programs in foreign languages, computer, electronic typing, and various skills in communication, management and commerce etc.
Each private educational institute has its own customised curricula, study plans, courses and textbooks. These curriculas are submitted to the Ministry of Education (MoE) for approval.
THE FUTURE STRUCTURE OF EDUCATION IN BAHRAIN
Bahrain is moving towards implementing the new education system or the future structure of education, which is more flexible as the student can obtain one of the provided tracks at the secondary level, namely, Unified Track or Vocational Track. The students who will select the Unified Track would obtain one of the following divisions: Science, Literary and Commercial.
The students who will select the Vocational Education Track either to obtain Technical stream – divided into applied or technical vocational – or to obtain the apprenticeship programme. The new structure will give all graduates the opportunity to continue their further study or to join the labour market, specially the technical school graduate as they face difficulty if they want to obtain higher certificate.
Bahrain has one of the most developed education systems in the Gulf, and has recently made strong advances in the use of information technology in schools. King Hamad bin Khalifa Al Khalifa has introduced a new project called King Hamad Schools of Future. This project aims to connect all schools within the kingdom with the internet and introduce the idea of education everywhere.
The Bahrain education system is going under huge reform initiatives seeking to develop the education system at all levels. The focus areas of these initiatives include:
♦ Strengthening the teaching profession through improved recruitment, training and employment conditions.
♦ Improving secondary vocational education aiming to bring these programmes closer to the needs of the private sector.
♦ Establishment of the Bahrain Polytechnic which will offer industry oriented courses in alignment with the applied sciences, enabling students to obtain professional qualifications to degree level with an emphasis on the development of practical skills directly applicable to the job market.
♦ Creating an Independent Quality Assurance Authority which will be responsible for conducting inspections of schools, secondary vocational institutions and universities, higher education units, and for running school level examinations.
The MoE has also recently launched the school improvement programme which has been designed to lift the performance of all Bahrainis schools and to improve future career outcomes for students through a number of projects that would affect the whole process of the learning and teaching.
These initiatives constitute the first part of what will be a long journey of reforms. They were selected as they were aligned with the national strategic plan in order to improve the quality of learning in Bahrain’s education and forming the foundations for future reforms.