MANAMA – KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN, 17TH JANUARY, 2018 – As Bahrain continues to develop fast in the education sector, the new year opens with the fourth Bahrain Schools and Childcare Expo 2018, scheduled to start on Thursday 18th January 2018 at Bahrain International Exhibition Center. The Expo will go on for three consecutive days until 20th January. After the huge success of the Third Bahrain Family Expo (BSC & MNC) 2017, this event is also expected to draw huge crowds, becoming bigger and better than ever.
Since Bahrain Economic Vision 2030 pushes the shift of oil-based economy towards a more knowledge-dependent one, the education sector has become one of the most prioritized sectors in order to train next generation of young Bahrainis for the challenges of a massively technology-oriented future. The government has been putting a lot of importance to raising the local educational standards, and has heavily funded initiatives to this end. The efforts have certainly come to fruition as the local schools excelled at some very important platforms such as the Quality of Education prize being won by the two government elementary schools, Rabia Al Adawia and Al Roudha at the Government Forum 2017. The event was held under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s Prime Minister. The Crown Prince and First Deputy Prime Minister, His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa was also present at the ceremony.
In addition, another milestone was achieved by the local education sector as the Zayed Future Energy Prize (ZFEP) was awarded to Bahrain Bayan School, beating four other finalists. The prestigious ZFEP award recognizes the advanced initiatives intended to promote and encourage the sustainable use of energy. HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa commended HE Dr. Shaikha Mai bint Sulaiman Al Otaibi, the Chairperson of the Bahrain Bayan School Board of Directors, in recognition of the school’s outstanding performance. [link]
Since the private sector is equally important in building the economy of the country, the government has kept the private sector institutes in the loop by providing them all the necessary opportunities and facilities to grow and further develop. The government has taken the approach to partner up with private sector schools in many fields so as to accelerate the efforts in improving the performance of private schools. As a result, the private schools have achieved many successful milestones including the Al Emaan School representing in the delegation of the Kingdom of Bahrain at the Arab Reading Challenge Award, being sponsored by the UAE Vice President and the Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa further supported the private sector by issuing direct recommendations to grant further privileges and autonomy to schools that demonstrate a high quality performance in future. His Excellency Dr Majid bin Ali Al-Nuaimi, the Minister of Education, took immediate notice of this policy issuing a ministerial decision to provide several advantages to the high-performing private schools as encouragement for them to continue to improve the performance level as well as to motivate the other schools to perform well.
The Bahrain Education & Training Quality Authority (generally known as the BQA) is the guiding organization that reviews the quality of education and training practiced by the public and private schools, vocational and training institutions as well as higher education institutes and their academic programs. This evaluation is carried out against the criteria and standards set by the BQA which is published openly for public access, and also involves assigning qualifications to the education and training institutions in accordance with the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) as per the requirements of the domestic, regional and international labor markets. In addition to all that, a new accreditation system has recently been initiated by the Bahrain Higher Education Council (HEC) in order to accommodate the changes taking place are in the field of higher education, and due to the arrival of foreign universities offering courses both in partnership with domestic universities as well as at their own local campuses.
With the objective of encouraging the local Bahraini youth towards more technical and technological fields, the National Higher Education Strategy 2014 – 24 focuses on increasing the student enrollments in areas such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The objective is to train and develop the local human resources in order to progressively replace the expatriate staff in the private sector workforce. The government realizes the importance of innovation and creativity based learning in helping to accomplish the end goal which is why technology is increasingly playing a major role in education in Bahrain. The Minister of Education, Majid bin Ali Al-Nuaimi stressed the significance of technology in the classroom in one of his interviews saying, “A top priority is to get the best technology available for our classrooms, making sure that we can address the needs of every student individually.” [link]
To this end, it is not surprising to see that the local technology companies and consultancies are growing at a fast rate. In fact, one of the biggest innovation companies is a proud Bahrain-based startup called Munfarid Consulting that has fast become a force to reckon with in the Middle East. Munfarid has been involved at many edu-tech platforms both locally and regionally, and has earned many international partnerships in the process. The company is leading the way in innovation all over the region aligning its goals in accordance with government’s vision to push the country forward by developing a highly educated and trained workforce as the key to a thriving and prosperous economic sector.
In appreciation of all these efforts taken by the Bahrain government in promoting education, science and social development as per UNESCO’s global standards , Kingdom of Bahrain has also won international recognition and recently been elected as one of the Vice Presidents of UNESCO’s 39th General Assembly, held in Paris on 30 October 2017. The Kingdom of Bahrain was unanimously nominated by the Arab group winning the confidence of the General Assembly’s members. [link]
It will be interesting to see what new initiatives the government will further take in the on-going year. For now, Bahrain Schools and Childcare Expo provides a great one stop-shop opportunity for education sector, healthcare facilities as well as kids’ entertainment providers to exhibit their offerings at the exhibition. The expo also offers a chance for the participants to engage with parents and families through interactive expert seminars, stage entertainment, information stalls, student charity market as well as play areas for children.