International Day of Education January 20, 2020
On January 24, the United Nations called the "International Education Day", where education is a human right, a public good and a public responsibility. The United Nations decided to declare this day to celebrate the role of education in achieving peace and development in the world.
Education provides children with a ladder to escape poverty and a path to a promising future, but approximately 265 million children and adolescents in the world do not have the opportunity to study or even complete their studies. Even though more than one-fifth of these children are of primary school age, they are frustrated by poverty, discrimination, armed conflict, and emergency situations and climate change impacts. Where according to the 2019 Global Education Monitoring Report, migration and forced displacement also affect the achievement of education goals.
In Bahrain, institutional education was launched in 1919 with the establishment of Al-Hidaya Al-Khalifia Secondary School in Muharraq. The state recorded its leadership and precedence in the launch of formal education in the Gulf states.
But when a state does not review its school and university educational system first-hand, and does not monitor the relationship of this educational system to training and the labor market, it will continue to suffer greatly at all levels.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights knows that the challenges facing education in Bahrain today need to be reviewed honestly and there is an urge to reports that reflect very transparent numbers about many details affecting the educational and school environment and the implications of their frequencies in all the details of state institutions.
The 2019 Global Education Monitoring Report reminds the reality of education in Bahrain, which has declined to low levels due to discrimination in the right to education, as the Ministry of Education has deprived hundreds of “A grade” students of their right to university studies due to religious considerations and the existence of sectarian discrimination in large scale since 2011.
In Bahrain, the new Financial and Administrative Supervision Bureau report for the year 2019 estimated 15% decline in primary school performance in the third review reports of “the quality of education” compared to their performance in the second review cycle, as 31% of primary schools that received an evaluation of inappropriate or satisfactory performance.
The report criticized the repetition of some recommendations in the quality reports issued during the second and third sessions of some primary schools, despite the lapse of time periods between the date of the issuance of the two courses, which ranged between three to four years. The report noted a merger between primary school students who numbered more than nine thousand students for the academic year 2019 with students in stages intermediate and secondary schools in some schools. The report also drew attention to exceeding the standards of student densities for more than 21% of primary school classes during the years 2016-2017 to 2018-2019.
The report said that the Ministry of Education has resorted to increasing mobile classrooms in primary schools to keep pace with increasing student numbers without taking the necessary measures to verify the suitability of public facilities in schools with the expected total number of students after adding those classes, pointing out that the area of mobile classes is 42.5 square meters which does not conform to the standard classroom space specified in the Standards and Technical Specifications for Governmental Educational Institutions, as the classroom space must not be less than 50 square meters.
Also, approximately 17 schools, meaning 12,000 students, will terminate its educational services as they are likely to fall, which means having to transfer the students to other schools, causing an increasing pressure on the existing institutions, educational and administrative bodies and Ministry of Education staff that manage these educational and training institutions.
This is in addition to the exit of 3600 teachers and employees from the Ministry of Education in the early retirement program, accompanied by 800 teachers and employees within the regular government retirement programs, which means 4400 persons including school principals, teachers and specialists whom will not be replaced according to the optional retirement system first, as well as the difficulty of reproducing their expertise and experiences second .
As for reducing budgets in the educational sector, it constitutes another challenge that does not lie under the responsibility of the Ministry of Education alone, but it is a major challenge that will face the Supreme Council for the Development of Education and Training and its planned strategies, which cannot be implemented according to numerical pressure in the numbers of students, and a numerical shortage of educational, technical and administrative staff. Not to forget the large reduction in budgets, which does not give any opportunity to remedy the existing imbalance.
The circumstances and previous challenges constitute a major confusion in the educational structure in Bahrain, and will stand as a major obstacle in the development of education and upgrading its quality, which was launched by the state exactly a decade ago; in establishing the Polytechnic, the Education and Training Quality Authority and the Teachers College.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights hopes that the reports on the quality of education and training, and their comparison with reality and aspirations, will really be able to chart the path after the 100-year march from the start of formal and institutional education in Bahrain.
On this international and national occasion, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls for increased political commitment to education as a force to include it in pushing for the achievement of all sustainable development goals, and to adopt reforms related to education at all levels besides those related to people with special needs, and to indeed improve procedures for professors and employees of educational institutions and all its members.