In October 2007, Cambridge won a competitive tender to work with the Bahrain Economic Development Board and Ministry of Education to establish a new National Examinations Unit (NEU) as part of the Kingdom’s National Education Reform Project.
We are also developing and running new National Tests for students at Grade 3, 6, and 9 (equivalent to Key stages 1, 2 and 3 in the UK) in the core subjects of Arabic, Mathematics, Science and English. The National Tests will be taken by all public sector pupils in state schools. Tests for school-leavers (Grade 12) are in development for the subjects of Arabic, English and Problem Solving with a pilot session planned in 2011.
The Cambridge project team will develop and manage the first two series of the National Tests, with marking to be carried out in Bahrain under Cambridge supervision. We will then continue to provide guidance and support as the NEU delivers the third series as part of the skills transfer to and capability building of the unit.
The first National Test session was completed successfully in May 2009 for Grades 3 and 6. More than 21,000 pupils in 133 government schools in Bahrain participated in the examinations, and extensive training was provided to examiners. These examinations will benchmark student and school performance across the country.
Speaking about the project, Dr Jawaher Al Mudhahki, Chief Executive of Bahrain′s Quality Assurance Authority for Education and Training, said: ‘Strict logistical and administrative procedures have been implemented and overseen jointly by NEU and Cambridge to ensure stringent security during the distribution and collection process of the examination papers.’
The second series of Grades 3 and 6 was delivered in May 2010 as well as the first series of Grade 9 tests as part of the planned phased implementation which is designed to provide extensive training, development and skills transfer to Bahraini specialists, so that once the rollout is complete, the National Tests will be run by the Bahraini National Examinations Unit.
The National Education Reform Strategy is a comprehensive cross-government effort under the leadership of H.E. Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa, in partnership with the Economic Development Board, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Labour, and key stakeholders in the public sector, private sector and civil society.
The key objective of the reform is to increase the skill levels and competency of Bahrainis by developing the entire education and training sector.
Photograph: Examiners mark English examination papers during the first National Test session in May 2009.