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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 97 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 local 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 private 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. There are several British and American schools to choose from as well as 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 extremely 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, expats will need to ensure their salary is 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. Alternatively, there are a number of academies, such as Teach Bahrain, that offer private teachers for full-time study at home. These academies follow various curricula, such as the International Baccalaureate and the British curriculum.
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 that 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 Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome and ADHD.
Tutors in Bahrain
Tutors are widely available for children in Bahrain and are extremely useful in providing schools support for all subjects, assisting children with learning Arabic, adjusting to their new school environment and curriculum, as well as test and exam preparation. Tutors can be found through adverts posted to online platforms like Mums in Bahrain, or through a tutoring company, such as ApprentUs and TeacherOn.
There are also tutoring institutions in Bahrain that offer courses for children to improve their learning. Al-Ba7ith Institute is one such tutoring centre. They have premises in both Sehla and Juffair, and offer personalised courses for each child that are specific to their needs.
►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. Thus it's necessary to first decide which system you want your children educated in, e.g. British, French, Indian, Arabic etc. Of the British system schools, St Christopher’s seems the most popular, but has a lengthy waiting list." Read more about Susie's expat experiences 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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