Education and Schools in Bahrain
Bahrain championed the Gulf's first public education system in 1919, and even went so far as to allow its female population equal access. Government devotes a large annual expenditure to this sector, and the Kingdom boasts one of the highest literacy rates in the region.
Public schools in Bahrain
The foundations for Bahrain’s modern public school system were laid during the British administration. However, as a result of strong support for education from the Bahrani government the country now boasts one of the best performing education systems in the Gulf.
In Bahrain, basic education is compulsory for all children aged six to 14, and tuition at state schools is free. The Bahrani people value education and school attendance is high. Public schools in Bahrain consistently perform well and the population as a whole is well-educated, with a literacy rate of 94%.
However, expat children living in Bahrain rarely attend Bahrani public schools. This is for a number of reason such as the local language barrier, the transient nature of their stay in Bahrain and the difficulty in overcoming Islamic cultural norms.
While English is taught in Bahraini schools, the main language of instruction is a local dialect of Arabic, which poses non-native speakers at a significant disadvantage.
International schools in Bahrain
To meet the needs of a growing expat population in Bahrain, the country has seen the growth in the number of international schools.
Currently, there are over 30 schools for expats to choose from, but still the demand often outweighs the supply. As a result, classes fill up quickly and therefore registration should be completed as soon as possible - even from abroad, prior to relocation.
Waiting lists, especially for the popular English speaking schools, are commonplace and if expats want to ensure their child has a space reserved it's vital to get the ball rolling sooner rather than later. Admission requirements vary from school to school, but usually the following is required:
- Passport copy
- Prior school reports
- Completed application form with application fee
Most schools are located in Riffa, and nearly all of them are co-educational.
As is the case globally, tuition fees at international schools in Bahrain can be very high, at up to BHD 8000 annually. It is therefore wise for expats to factor this expense into their employment contract when negotiating with the employer. If an employer if reluctant to grant an education allowance into the package then it is important that the expats salary is high enough to adequately cover the costs of schooling.
The curriculum taught in schools in Bahrain varies from institution to institution. Each has it's own unique study plan, course schedule and required textbooks. Final exams and certificates granted also differ from school to school.
One common thread, however; is the fact that a mixture of nationalities often attend each school and that Arabic and Islamic studies are a required part of all curricula.
For expat families who find this unacceptable, the only other option is to home-school your child.
Generally speaking, standards at international schools in Bahrain are quite high, smaller class sizes are the norm and most have modern facilities and healthy extra-curricular programs.