The education system in Bahrain is considered one of the best in the Persian Gulf. Bahrain was the first country in the region to instigate a public school system and also to admit female pupils to all levels of education. Education is free to all children in Bahrain and is compulsory from age 6 to age 14, when children take the Intermediate Education Certificate examination needed to continue on to secondary school. Upon completion of secondary education, students are awarded the Tawjihi which is necessary for entry into university. Bahrain’s Ministry of Education is responsible for all sectors of public education. The majority of non-Arab expat children attend one of the many private schools in Bahrain, which teach in English and a variety of other languages.
The academic year in Bahrain runs from September to June. Schools and universities are closed for the summer break in July and August. However, many private and international schools set their own academic calendar so it is a good idea to contact each school directly to find more information about their term dates.
Bahrain has 19 public and private universities and colleges, which are mainly situated in Manama. The leading universities are University of Bahrain, Arabian Gulf University and Ahlia University. Bahrain’s higher education sector consists of publicly-funded state universities and a number of private institutions such as AMA International University and the Medical University of Bahrain, which both cater for overseas students. Many degree programmes are taught in Arabic, however recognising the need for globalization in education, there is now a growing number of programmes taught in English, particularly in private international institutions. Many of Bahrain’s universities are segregated by gender, so men and women study in different classrooms and campuses. The Royal University for Women is Bahrain’s first private, international university dedicated solely to the education of women.
Bahrain’s private universities charge tuition fees and the amount depends on the rate set by each institution. However, fees are low in comparison to the UK, and international students can generally expect to pay around 2,500BHD (£3,900) per year for an undergraduate degree.
Bahrain offers a wide range of Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in both its public and private universities. International and business degrees (MBA) are particularly popular, with many courses being taught in English. An undergraduate degree generally takes around three to four years to complete and a Master’s takes around two to three years. Bahrain’s universities also have many links and exchange programmes with universities worldwide.
Research activities in Bahrain are strictly regulated by the government, however the country has a number of leading research universities, such as the University of Bahrain, which are committed to creating world-class research facilities. The Bahraini think tank DERASAT also promotes research activities in order to inform policy and support independent and innovative research practice.
Primary and Secondary Education
Basic education is free to all children in Bahrain and is compulsory from age six to 14. School attendance is high and the public school system is regarded as comprehensive and modern compared to other Arab nations. Children attend primary school from age six to 11, when they continue to Intermediate school. At age 14, students can opt to go to secondary school where they will complete qualifications needed to enter higher education. All public schools are segregated by gender in Bahrain.
Due to the difficulty in overcoming the language barrier and cultural differences in public schools, private schools represent the only schooling option for non-Arab expat children in Bahrain. The high number of English-speaking expats in Bahrain means that competition for private school places can be fierce, so it is a good idea to register your child as soon as you know you are moving there. There are around 30 private schools in Bahrain, dealing with most curriculums. These include British, American, Pakistani, Indian, French and Filipino. The most sought after schools are St Christopher’s and The British School for the UK curriculum, and Bahrain School and Ibn Khuldoon for American and International Baccalaureate curriculums. Fees range from 2,883 BHD (£5348) to 7,056 BHD (£13,089) per year.
The majority of pre-school education in Bahrain is provided by private, fee-paying nurseries. There is a wide variety of international nurseries and kindergartens for expat parents to choose from - more information can be found here.