World education experts meet in Bahrain
08 Oct 2010
Mike Baker reports from Bahrain:
Teachers, academics and ministers from across the world are gathering in Bahrain for this weekend's second annual Bahrain Education Project, an event designed as a 'do tank' as well as a 'think tank' to encourage the spread of best educational practice.
Representatives from some 50 countries are hear to listen to discuss topics including: 'improving teacher quality', 'creating a culture of continuous improvement', and 'healing the ills of global higher education'. Speakers include:
- Zenna Atkins, CEO GEMS UK, Europe and Africa and former Chair of Ofsted;
- Dr Teddy Blecher, pioneer of the free education movement in South Africa;
- Prof. S. Gopinathan, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore;
- Christine Gilbert, Head of Ofsted, England;
- Mike Feinberg, co-founder of KIPP, USA;
- Dr Majid bin Ali Al Nuaimi, Minister of Education, Bahrain;
- and education ministers from India, Lebanon, Morocco and elsewhere.
I'll be blogging and tweeting on the event as it happens.
The Bahrain Education Project is an innovative initiative, which is based on a recognition that when the oil runs out in the Gulf, countries will have to adapt and education will be at the heart of economic regeneration.
This issue is considered one of the most urgent facing the six Gulf Cooperation Council states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE). A recent report from the Economist Intelligence Unit notes that this region, with one of the youngest and fastest-growing populations in the world, will have to depend heavily on education for its future development.
The region has been identified as having a gap between its education levels and its employment needs and Dr Mona Mourshed of McKinseys, one of the speakers here, has said there is still much to be done to find solutions that can be scaled up across the region.
The project is an initiative of the Crown Prince and chairman of the Bahrain Economic Development Board, HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa to identify the educational challenges facing not only the Gulf region but the rest of the world.
Bahrain itself has an interesting history of education, having been the first in the Gulf to introduce a public education system in 1919 and also the first to open education to women in 1928. Today it has an 87% adult literacy rate and 70% of its university students are women.