Bahrain’s education system to get an international qualifications boost
As part of a program to upgrade education and training opportunities for Bahrainis, Tamkeen has awarded the Scottish Qualifications Authority the mandate to deliver a framework and clear policy for national criteria for Bahrain’s training service providers.
The move is part of far-reaching educational reform in the Kingdom and part of extensive plans by the leadership of Bahrain and the Economic Development Board to revamp the Kingdom’s education and training opportunities and prepare Bahrain’s next generation for the workplace of the 21st century.
The Scottish Qualifications Authority, which was selected after a thorough tendering process has a successful track-record in helping to design and implement National Qualifications frameworks in an international context. The implementation of a Bahrain Qualifications Framework will provide a clearly defined, transparent and a better integrated qualifications system and provide students as well as employers the benefit of a modern and globally-recognized educational and training system. This will offer an effective solution for learners choosing their qualifications for not only entering the job market but also in the case of those already employed, to enhance their professional skill sets matched to national requirements and earn a just remuneration. For employers this will translate to recruitment of productive employees as the Framework will provide only qualifications that fit the national quality and efficacy requirements.
The process is expected to take two years and will be managed on a day-to-day basis by Tamkeen and a project Steering Committee which reports progress to the Education Reform Board. All courses offered in Bahrain wishing to be within the Framework will undergo a validation process against pre-established criteria and only those qualifications that meet with the requirements of the defined national criteria will be allowed onto the framework. The project Steering Committee led by Tamkeen consists of the Economic Development Board (EDB), the Ministry of Education, the Higher Education Council, the Ministry of Labor (the High Council for Vocational Training) and the Quality Assurance Authority for Education and Training.
“Much has been said about the Vision 2030 development matrix that our leaders have set forth and the empowerment of every Bahraini as a key stakeholder in the progress of the Kingdom. We believe that the building of a Bahrain Qualifications Framework is a vital component of these goals,” commented Tamkeen’s Chief Executive Abdulellah Al Qassimi.
Mr. Al Qassimi added, “This is an initiative with far-reaching consequences in the shaping of our future and much thought and care has gone into its planning. As a first step towards matching world standards and setting up a regional meta-framework with other GCC nations so that our citizens can pool their talents in a regional workplace, I think this is one of our most important projects.”
Through a series of extensive consultations, the Bahrain Qualifications Framework is expected to produce a learner-centred framework, be transparent, be readily understood and will relate all education and training qualifications in Bahrain to each other. A National Qualifications Framework model for Bahrain will be developed that will consist of a number of levels, with each level based on specified standards of knowledge, skill and competence. These standards will define the outcomes to be achieved by learners seeking to gain a qualification at each level. At some point, a national authority may be established to ensure that educational institutions and training service providers meet the standards laid down.
The Bahrain Qualifications Framework will ensure the relevance of qualifications to the changes in demand within the labor market. Additionally, it will create a more relevant and sustainable Bahraini workforce by developing both, horizontal and vertical learning pathways. Bahrainis will find it easier to access not only qualifications but also enhance their professional and vocational skills for improving their personal career path. The new system produced by its implementation is also a golden opportunity for those who did not complete mainstream learning as it opens up pathways for adult learning and acquisition of new vocational skills.
The European Union also put in place a “meta-framework” that allowed its member nations to compare and align the qualifications within each member nation. This was of prime importance for the member states that allow direct employment opportunities to nationals of fellow European Union countries. In the region, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have already commenced this process and there are discussions to create a meta-framework within the GCC on the lines of the existing EU framework.
The Scottish Qualifications Authority team working towards the Bahrain Qualifications Framework is led by Mr. Martin Dodd who said “The Scottish Qualifications Authority is delighted to have the opportunity to work with Tamkeen in developing a National Qualifications Framework for the Kingdom of Bahrain. There are currently many changes taking place in education and training under the EDB’s Education Reform Board, chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa. The Bahrain Qualifications Framework project is itself a key element in this changing landscape.”