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Education in Bahrain is of a high standard, and as a result of the ever-growing expat population, there are plenty of schools to choose from.
Bahrain championed the Arabian Peninsula's first public education system in 1930. Today, the Kingdom boasts a high standard of education, with a literacy rate of more than 95 percent.
Public schools in Bahrain
Education in Bahrain is compulsory for all children aged six to 14, and tuition at state schools is free. Textbooks, uniforms, lunches and school transport are also provided free of charge.
Despite these perks, expat children living in Bahrain rarely attend Bahraini public schools. This is for a number of reasons, such as the local language barrier, the typically transient nature of expats' stays 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. This puts non-native speakers at a significant disadvantage.
Private and international schools in Bahrain
Bahrain's private education sector is largely composed of international schools alongside a handful of religious schools. Bahrain's international schools have been established to meet the needs of a growing expat population in Bahrain. There are dozens of schools for expats to choose from, but demand still outweighs supply. As a result, classes fill up quickly, so the application process should be started as soon as possible – even from abroad, prior to relocation.
Expats of a number of nationalities will be able to find an international school following the curriculum of their home country. This provides continuity in the child's education and limits the disruption caused by the move. Expats will find that there are several British and American schools to choose from, but there are also schools offering other curricula, such as those of India, France and Australia. Some schools offer the world-renowned International Baccalaureate programme instead.
Generally speaking, standards at international schools in Bahrain are high, smaller class sizes are the norm and most have modern facilities and healthy extra-curricular programmes.
As is the case globally, tuition fees at international schools in Bahrain can be very high. It is therefore wise for expats to factor this expense into their employment contract when negotiating with their employer. If an employer is reluctant to include an education allowance in the package, the expat's salary must be high enough to adequately cover the costs of schooling.
Homeschooling in Bahrain
It is possible for parents to homeschool their children while living in Bahrain as there is no law against it. Many parents choose to enrol their children in a private school to ensure they're following a structured curriculum while learning at home.
Special needs education in Bahrain
The Kingdom of Bahrain is one of the first Middle Eastern countries to embrace inclusive education. The ministry of education's mission is to enable all learners with special needs to enrol in education in public and private schools. They follow a continuous and comprehensive approach to ensure the students' requirements and individual needs are met.
Parents who prefer to send their children to special needs schools will be happy to hear that Bahrain has a number of excellent options for their children. One such option is The Children's Academy which is a private special needs school that teaches children between the ages of three and nine. The language of education is English and a large number of the students are expats. The school caters for a number of needs including Autism, Down's Syndrome, ADHD, etc.
►See our list of International Schools in Bahrain
"From talking to [friends] and my teacher friends, it's become clear there's a wide choice of curricula available on the island." Read more about Susie's expat experiences in Bahrain.
"British School or St Christopher’s seem to be the pick of the Western (British) curriculum schools." Learn more about John's life in Bahrain.
Are you an expat living in Bahrain?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Bahrain. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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