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Education reform projects on way in Bahrain.

Byline: Manama

(Image: reforms.gif )

Four key projects that aim to introduce fundamental reforms to Bahrain's education sector will be launched over the coming four weeks, it was announced on Monday.

The projects are the first phase of the National Education Reform Initiatives (NERI).

Crown Prince and Economic Development Board (EDB) chairman Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa will open the Bahrain Teachers College at Bahrain University's Sakhir campus on Wednesday.

A school improvement programme will be launched at Umm Kalthoom Intermediate Girls School, Isa Town on November 11.

The newly established Bahrain Polytechnic's official opening is scheduled for November 26.

Another vital project, the Quality Assurance Authority (QAA), will be inaugurated on December 2 at the EDB headquarters in Seef.

All four projects are in line with 'Bahrain's Economic Vision 2030 - for a fairer, more competitive and sustainable nation,' said EDB chief operating officer Kamal Ahmed.

'Central to the Vision's success is the recognition of the importance of an effective education system, relevant to today's global labour market,' he told a roundtable meeting with the media at the EDB on Monday.

'This is reflected in the primary importance afforded to the NERI.

'Introduced in 2005, the reform initiatives mark one of the earliest and ambitious programmes of investment in Bahrain's people towards the goals of Vision 2030.'

'The comprehensive range of measures undertaken at all levels of the education system, from schools to vocational and teacher training are now beginning to bear fruit in delivering more and better education for all Bahrainis.'

Education Ministry Under Secretary for Resources and Services and NERI project board member Shaikh Hisham bin Abdulaziz Al Khalifa said that Bahrain had a long track record of 'firsts' in the Gulf, including the introduction of education for girls over 80 years ago.

'Today, its 200 public schools and 50 private schools have put Bahrain at the forefront of education participation and achievement, with literacy rates among the best in the Gulf,' he said.

'Beyond this, the private sector and the government have come together to develop vocational training facilities, while at the tertiary level, 25,000 students attend 16 universities.

'The reform initiatives seek to create an education system that is 'fit-for-purpose' in equipping future generations with the skills required in the 21st century.'

Based on the findings of the economic workshops, led by the Crown Prince, various reform initiatives, including those in education, began in June 2005, said Ahmed.

'These were focussed on equipping Bahrain with the highly-skilled and flexible human capital it needs to compete effectively in today's dynamic global markets - stressing the need for leadership and innovation at all levels of the education system.'

The programme was based on research, which highlighted 'gaps' both in the provision of education and in the skills required by employers.

The NERI project board is chaired by Deputy Prime Minister, Shaikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa.

Two members of the board come from the private sector - BDO executive partner Jawad Habib and Awalco managing director Adel Mattar.

This is to ensure the continued liaison with the business world.

To bolster this, a Private Sector Advisory Committee made up of leading figures from the business world has been established.

The results of the first round of reforms can be seen across the spectrum of the education system in a range of new institutions designed to ensure standards and build-in a vocational focus to the learning process, said Habib.

QAA will provide independent reviews and reports on the performance of all educational institutions, he revealed.

'Ten schools, two from each of the five governorates, will be chosen to make a year-long review,' said Ahmed.

'QAA's work is supported by international partners including Cambridge International Examinations, Nord Anglia - a UK company supporting the Schools and Vocational Review Units - and the Australian Universities Quality Agency.'

The Bahrain Teachers' College will help enhance the skills of new and existing teachers, said NERI project managing director Dr Martyn Forrest.

Its work is supported by the National Institute of Education in Singapore.

The creation of the Bahrain Polytechnic will provide post-secondary vocational qualifications, said Forrest.

The international partner supporting its work is Polytechnics International New Zealand - a leading New Zealand education consultancy company.

The Secondary Vocational Initiative has developed a training framework to ensure relevance of learning to the workplace.

This is supported by the Department of Education in Victoria, Australia.

Al Rashid Group-Bahrain is partnering with the Education Ministry in the inaugural pilot of a work placement programme for year two commercial secondary students.

The 25 students from Al Maarifa Commercial School will undertake a six-week programme.

The roundtable meeting was also attended by EDB director for national communications Dina Kasrawi and national communications manager Isa Mubarak. - TradeArabia News Service

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Publication:TradeArabia (Manama, Bahrain)
Date:Nov 4, 2008
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