The National Qualifications Framework
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In line with Bahrain 2030 Vision, the Supreme Council for the Development of Education and Training, Chaired by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Mubarak Al Khalifa the Deputy Prime Minister, took a decision to establish a national qualifications framework and implement it in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The Labor Fund (Tamkeen) funded the NQF project in the Design and Setup Phases with technical assistance provided by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).
 
The Design Phase commenced in January 2010 and was completed by November 2011. A Steering Group comprising a wide range of stakeholders was established by Tamkeen to oversee the implementation of the contracted project deliverables and to provide advice both to Tamkeen, as the funding organization, and to the SQA Technical Team. Consultation and communication were considered to be vital to the development of the framework. Stakeholders have been fully engaged in the development of the NQF. Various NQF policy working groups have been established comprising representatives from public and private education and training institutions in Bahrain. The main objectives of the policy working groups have been to consult stakeholders in the early formulation of the policies developed.
 
Endorsement of the Design Phase was sought from two international organizations, namely: the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework Partnership (SCQFP) and the National Qualifications Authority Ireland (NQAI), each responsible for the governance and management of their respective national frameworks. Endorsement was provided through official letters to the Steering Group and subsequently through signed Memoranda of Understanding from both organizations. At the end of phase one, results comprised an NQF Architecture, NQF level descriptors and a series of NQF Policies.
 
In 2012, the responsibility of administrating and maintaining (including finalizing the development at late stages of the Setup Phase) the NQF has been handed over to BQA by Royal Decree (83, 2012) under article 3. The second phase, Setup Phase, commenced in March 2012 to continue and build up on the Design Phase of the NQF. Within its operations, the BQA has always been committed to partnership approach, thus continued involving stakeholders in the Setup Phase. One of the main activities in the Setup Phase is the pilot where 17 institutions participated in testing and using the NQF processes, procedures, operations and documents. Six working groups were established during this phase to provide input from private and public institutions, employers and government bodies. In addition, the NQF Technical Committee was established early in 2012 with the purpose of overseeing developments and providing advice to the SQA Project Team and to the BQA. 
 
The BQA sought to have formal representation of the NQF strategic stakeholders, hence the NQF Advisory Committee was formed in 2013 by Prime Minister Decision (52, 2013), involving such representation.
 
NQF Benefits
·         provides a stronger basis for the understanding, comparison and recognition of national and foreign qualifications, thereby improving the understanding of employers, parents and learners of the value of qualifications
·         provides fit-for-purpose qualifications that have stronger linkages with market and learners’ needs
·         increases the accountability of education and training institutions towards maintaining high quality standards in their provision
·         improves the opportunities for mobility and progression of learners within and across higher education, vocational and general education sectors
·         promotes the concept of lifelong learning through the promotion of all types of learning: formal, non-formal and informal.
 
NQF Characteristics
The National Qualifications Framework is an instrument for the classification of qualifications according to a set of criteria for specified levels of learning achieved. It integrates and coordinates national qualifications sub-systems and improves quality, transparency, access and progression.
 
 
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10 levels: each level is described by a set of statements that describe the complexity of acquired learning in terms of knowledge, skills and competencies see Level Descriptors.
Comprehensive: covers higher education, vocational education and training and general education.
Mandatory: for all Education and Training Institutions in the Kigndom of Bahrain
Quality Assured Qualifications in Quality Assured Institutions and meeting required NQF criteria
Vertical and Horizontal progression.