Bahrain

Huda Al-Awadhi
Counselor of Studies and Research
Ministry of Education

Overview of Education System

Education and cultural services in the Kingdom of Bahrain are fundamental rights for all citizens, as legislated in Article 7 of the Bahrain constitution.1 The main objective of educational policy in Bahrain is “to offer to all citizens, without any type of discrimination, equal opportunities to receive education.” Article 6 of Bahrain Education Law No. 27 stipulates that “education is free of charge in basic and secondary government public schools.”2

The Bahrain Ministry of Education is the official body responsible for implementing educational policy in the public school sector, determining general objectives for basic and secondary education, and allocating instructional time for all subjects.3 Private schools in Bahrain operate under the supervision of the Ministry of Education and are obligated to use the curriculum and textbooks approved by the Ministry covering the Arabic language for Arab students, Islamic studies for Muslim students, and the history and geography of Bahrain for all students. In all schools in Bahrain in 2006, the Ministry implemented a citizenship curriculum that was compulsory only for Bahraini and Arab students. In 2015, the citizenship curriculum was implemented for all students in all schools.

In Bahrain, there are three types of private schools:4 national, foreign, and foreign community. Each school has its own curriculum, teaching plans, and textbooks, which must be approved by the Ministry of Education.

Education in Bahrain is divided into two main stages:5

  • Basic education (Grades 1 to 9)—This stage is divided into primary and intermediate stages. The primary stage comprises Cycle 1 (Grades 1 to 3) and Cycle 2 (Grades 4 to 6), and the intermediate stage comprises Cycle 3 (Grades 7 to 9). Together, these three cycles of basic education constitute compulsory education, in which all students are taught in regular classes in all subjects.
  • Secondary education (Grades 10 to 12)—In the first year, while certain basic subjects are common for all students, there are different general study streams and vocational streams to choose from.

Exhibit 1 presents the distribution of schools and students by type of school in Bahrain, as of January 2016.

Exhibit 1: Distribution of Schools and Students in Bahrain (January 2016)

Type of School Number of Schools Number of Students
Primary
(Ages 6–12)
Boys
Girls
Total
58
55
113
30,929
32,466
63,395
Intermediate
(Ages 12–14)
Boys
Girls
Total
30
28
58
21,755
20,294
42,049
Secondary
(Ages 14–16)
Boys
Girls
Total
12
19
31
10,038
16,348
26,386
Private Schools
(Ages 6–18)
Boys and Girls 75 66,725

In Bahrain, preschool and kindergarten (ages 3 to 5) are neither compulsory nor free. However, every child has the right to attend a kindergarten belonging to a private school or any one of the 137 private kindergartens operating under the supervision of the Ministry of Education.

In 2014, the Ministry conducted an assessment of learning materials in private kindergartens against standardized textbooks for the final kindergarten year (age 5). Exhibit 2 shows the distribution of kindergartens and students by sector in Bahrain, as of January 2016.

Exhibit 2: Distribution of Kindergartens and Students Ages 3–5 in Bahrain

Type of Kindergarten Number of Kindergartens Number of Students
Directorate Kindergartens 137 18,678
Private School Kindergartens 64 17,062

Languages of Instruction

Arabic is the official language of Bahrain. The language of instruction in all public schools is classical Arabic, which differs from the Arabic dialects spoken in Bahrain. Mathematics and science, along with all other subjects, are taught in classical Arabic. English is a compulsory subject from the first year of basic education. Recently, French has been implemented in 18 schools as a compulsory subject in Grade 7.6

Languages of instruction in private schools include English and either French or Arabic, depending on the system each school is following.