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Black mark for 'failing' schools

Manama, June 30, 2009

A Bahrain government approved report has found that of the 20 public and private institutions reviewed only four were rated "good" and 13 "satisfactory", while three were deemed "inadequate".

A Quality Assurance Authority for Education and Training (QAAET) report released yesterday (June 29) during a Press conference at the Gulf Hotel said that none of those evaluated achieved the highest level possible - "outstanding".

Two out of four higher education courses analysed received "no confidence" judgements, with the two others receiving "limited confidence" rulings. Half of vocational institutions were also rated as "inadequate".

However, despite the results QAAET's chairman and Prime Minister's Court Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa remained optimistic and called for all organisations to intensify their efforts to improve services.

"The results of the schools, vocational training institutions and higher education institutions reviews and results of the first national examinations were generally satisfactory," he said.

QAAET's chief executive Dr Jawaher Al Mudhahki added it would take time for the positive effects of the authority to be seen: "If there was no indication that there was a need to take a look at current institutions to see how they could be improved then we would not have been commissioned.”

"We being here means the people in charge know that something needs to be improved and hopefully we will get to a point where progress is made,” she said.

Executive director of the national examinations unit Sylke Scheiner said that with the relative infancy of the QAAET, it was unsurprising that the results of the investigation had highlighted weaknesses in country's educational system.

Improvement

"It's probably fair to say that if you look at similar programmes in the international context this is normal," she said.

"In the UK, with Ofsted (the British QAAET equivalent) the picture was quite similar.

"Although the baseline is quite shocking, you will see a huge improvement in the next three to five years. These reviews will show where the institutions need to focus to improve things for the future."

Schools review unit executive director Dr Jo Jolliffe, who is responsible for the evaluation of Bahrain's schools, said the report found that all-girl schools tended to fair better than all-boys schools.

She believed this was due in part to behavioural issues, which were identified at many all-male schools. "It is not in every school but we have identified it (behavioural issues) at a number of schools which is why it has come up in the report," said Dr Jolliffe.

"It's just low-level disruptive behaviour. It ranges from misbehaviour around the corridors to not listening in class or failing to engage with tutors in the classroom and this is affecting their performance."

Dr Jolliffe also noted that elementary schools - girls' schools in particular - scored better on average than intermediate and secondary level schools.

Attendance and punctuality were one positive aspect to come out of the report, with schools looking increasingly likely to consult parents about education-related issues.

"However we found self-evaluation to be something that needs to be improved on," said Dr Jolliffe.

"Schools seemed to constantly judge themselves to be better than they actually are so information on strategic plans is not always accurate enough or focused on the right issues.

"Individual differences are not taken into account enough in planning and learning either, with the most able students often left unchallenged and the least able not always provided with the right level of support."

The higher education review found that whilst the two included universities scored well in terms of their support of students and had created strong ties with their chief affiliate and inter


Tags: Manama | Qaaet | Quality assurance | Bahrain schools |

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