Gulf Insider talks with some of the leading institutions in the Kingdom of Bahrain to get their insight on their prime role in building the future leaders of the Kingdom.
As Education forms the key part of Bahrain’s Economic Vision 2030, the education and training institutions in the country are at the centre of attention in the business world.
Bahrain has the oldest public education system in the Arabian Peninsula. The first tertiary institution to open in Bahrain was Gulf Technical University in 1968. In 1984, several other educational institutions joined with Gulf Technical University to form the University of Bahrain (UOB). UOB reveals some of their upcoming plans in preparing their students for the 21st century job market in Bahrain.
“The job market of the twenty first century is a very dynamic and different one to only a few years ago. Job markets are heavily dependent on economic conditions and in particular private sector growth as the engine for job creation in Bahrain. The University of Bahrain therefore has to be aligned with the needs of employers to understand the employment patterns in several key economic sectors.
A Rigorous Foundation
“This coming academic year UOB will be bringing in over ten new academic programs that are required by industry, a new and rigorous foundation programme will also be introduced that also contains ICT and maths. Our close partnership with industry is also helping our programmes to become more skills-based and allow our students to gain valuable experience through internship s both locally and internationally,” Professor Riyad Y. Hamzah, President of the University of Bahrain told GI.
In addition, the Bahrain Higher Education Council has improved their educational strategy for 2014-2024 in multiple ways by increasing the number of post graduate programmes, professionally qualified teaching staff and the enrollment of more students into the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.) sector. This is to ensure that more number of students are getting into the right sectors for the future growth of the economy. This is quite challenging since a few students in the Bahraini higher education are registered for STEM-based courses.
“The needs of the labor market constantly fluctuate, and higher education institutions are required to monitor the trends of the labor market and update their curricula as a result. We ensure that we keep meeting these needs by working closely with our industrial partners, guaranteeing that our graduates have the appropriate knowledge and skills to meet the demands of the employers.” Dr. Jeff Zabudsky, CEO of Bahrain Polytechnic University told the GI.
In House and On the Job Training
The Government increased the allotment for the education industry in the last decade accounting for 8.8% of the total budget. The Government training fund Tamkeen, established in 2006, is intent on encouraging employers to place Bahrainis into in-house or on-the-job training schemes.
“Tamkeen supports all businesses in the kingdom including Educational and training institutions, as these enterprises have the right to apply for the grants Tamkeen provides to develop their businesses, including the financial solutions, the training and wage support, professional certifications and “Taqdeer” scheme.
At Tamkeen, we consider the Educational and training institutions as partners in the developmental process, as most of these institutions provide the necessary training to the Bahraini workforce” said Dr. Ebrahim Mohammed Janahi, CEO of Tamkeen.
“For example, up to date Tamkeen injected more than BHD14.4 M as part of its investments on the Professional Certification scheme since its launch in 2012,” added Dr. Janahi.
Bahrain’s Higher Educational Council and the British Accreditation Council collaborated in 2015 to build a national university accreditation system. The University of Bahrain, Bahrain Polytechnic, and the Royal University of Women were the first educational institutions to receive the first accreditations. There was an increase in the collaboration of foreign universities with Bahrain since then. London’s Southbank University and Cardiff Metropolitan University partnered with Applied Science University by the end of 2015. The University of Salford became the first British institution to open its campus in the Kingdom with the partnership of the Government.
As Bahrain moves from oil based economy to non-oil based one, and the government drives for more Bahrainization, each step that the educational institutions take is vital. With many reforms in the education sector, more and more students from other parts of the GCC have started to enroll in Bahrain educational institutions. The next decade will be crucial to assess which of the reforms bring forth a promising result in response to the globalization requirements. With the success of these implementations, Bahrain may even become the center to build the future leaders of the entire Arab world.