BQA 4th Conference

BQA 4th Conference

Under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Supreme Council for the Development of Education and Training (SCDET), the BQA 4th Conference was held under the theme: “The Future of Quality of Education and Training: Between International Trends & Local Implementation." The two-days conference featured participations by 1120 experts from 30 countries around the world including specialists, academics, strategic partners and international organizations representatives, as well as those interested in the education and training sectors in the Kingdom of Bahrain.


In the Opening Ceremony, His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa stressed that the importance of the role of education and described it as the measure of the civilization of nations and the progress and awakening of nations and peoples. HH praised His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, King of the Kingdom of Bahrain, and His Majesty's interest and directions to achieve the qualitative development of education, as well as the Reform Project that was launched by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, which was comprehensively included numerous key initiatives, including the establishment of the Education and Training Quality Authority (BQA).


His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa delivered this speech during the BQA Virtual Conference 2021 that was convened on 30-31 March 2021, whereas he referred to a report published by the United Nations in August 2020, titled: 'Education during COVID-19 and beyond', the report states that The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the largest disruption of education in history, whereas of learners worldwide were affected by the pandemic, representing 1.6 billion children and youth, from pre-primary to higher education, in more than 190 countries across the world and from all continents. According to the report, closures of schools and other higher education institutions have impacted 94% and 99% based on the income level of the affected countries.


'A hundred years ago and more, Bahrain began the renaissance of institutional education and embraced such challenge with determination, when the Al Hidayah Al Khalifiyah School was established as the first regular school in Bahrain in 1919. Since then, the educational process has undergone stages of change and development in terms of educational objectives and school levels in accordance with the variables and requirements of the labour market and sustainable development programmes. This is in the light of changes in societies, the enormous technological development of the world and its impact on the economy, and the fact that specialists and educators are questioning the importance of continuing research into the review of education systems from kindergarten to post-school education (beyond the secondary level) in order to establish an education system that keeps pace with the requirements of the twenty-first century, capable of producing an educated generation, which is geared towards creativity, innovation and competition in different walks of life', His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa said.


Commenting on the BQA's achievements in the education and training sectors, His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa said, 'During the 12 years since its establishment, the Education and Training Quality Authority - the Kingdom of Bahrain has successfully kept pace with quality regulations regionally and internationally, as it has signed approximately 20 memoranda of understanding and cooperation agreements with international and local specialised institutions and bodies to transfer experience and expertise. This is through its mandate as an independent body, it takes into account global quality standards in terms of the quality of curricula and courses, the efficiency of education and administrative frameworks, and the infrastructure within a comprehensive, transparent and sustainable evaluation system.'


'These agreements provided the Authority with many opportunities to be a breeding ground for the preparation of professional expertise in evaluating the quality of education and training performance, whereas it successfully completed more than 1712 comprehensive review reports on the quality of performance results of government and private schools, universities and institutes. It also included the results of the institutional listing of education and training institutions, the qualification placement and alignment of foreign qualifications on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). These reviews were not disrupted by COVID-19 pandemic,' HH added.


His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa also referred to two-year contract that was signed by the Government with a global company with expertise in education to restructure the Ministry of Education and strengthen its role in the operation of schools and institutions of basic education, whereas the MoE has initiated to implement these development recommendations to enable the Ministry to keep up with the latest developments and perform its role effectively and efficiently in educational and administrative fields. The strategy for the development of Post-School Education and enhancing the Role of applied education institutions is being implemented by drawing up strategic objectives to raise enrolment rate in applied post-school education to 50% by 2030, in cooperation with the private sector and in response to the requirements of the modern industrial revolution to prepare generations with competitive skills in the labour market.'


'With the quality of education and training, we can contribute to the overall advancement and upgrading of the educational and school environment that underpins that advancement, at a time when nations are racing to explore space and seek to address environmental challenges and threats to the future of humanity. If we are to be influential in this area, we must cooperate to define the strategies and goals of quality education and training that we desire and all strive to achieve, with all our capabilities, competencies and skills in a unified effort to realize them,' HH stressed.


In conclusion, His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa thanked the Education and Training Quality Authority, its Board of Directors and all its staff members for their efforts and plans for a bright educational and training future for the Kingdom of Bahrain. The regional and international reputation they have achieved is evidence of the quality and mastery of their performance, and their success in hosting these regional and international competencies at this important Conference only confirms the confidence they have achieved over a decade of giving, which we hope will continue through these partnerships, conferences, strengthening relations, exchange of experiences and transfer of expertise for the benefit of education, which is the foundation of the advancement of nations and rising of their peoples.


In her speech, Dr. Jawaher Shaheen Al Mudhahki, Chief Executive of the Education and Training Quality Authority (BQA) said that 'Anyone who reviews the experience of the Kingdom of Bahrain in administering the COVID-19 crisis will realise that directions of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, were aimed primarily at protecting citizens and residents from the effects of the spread of this pandemic. It has been made more illustrious and successful that His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Prime Minister has administered this crisis prudently and efficiently.' She also praised the role of the Supreme Council for the Development of Education and Training Supreme Council chaired by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Supreme Council for the Development of Education and Training, and his tireless follow-up and guidance during this period, have been the greatest guarantee for achieving the set goals since its inception to date.


'Organisation of the BQA 4th Conference during these exceptional times reflects the confidence in its potential and abilities to carry out its mandate. The theme of this Conference has already been chosen as the starting point for subsequent conferences, to discuss global competencies, student and teacher's readiness, and the overall teaching environment in its transformation into an electronic education system. We have sought to research the quality of higher education during these unconventional situations, to determine the impact of global changes on educational qualifications and the labour market. Training and its future will also have a place in the discussions of this Conference. Participation has the significant impact on enriching the sessions and recommendations of this Conference. The Education and Training Quality Authority seeks through communication with experts and partners to achieve effective use of these systematic conferences and forums, to share knowledge and benefit from successful experiences for a better future for our countries and their peoples,'  Dr. Al Mudhahki said.


In Day 1 of the Conference, Mr. Andreas Schleicher, Director of Education and Skills - Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), delivered a presentation titled: 'Global Competencies: Students and Teachers Readiness During Challenging Times.' He tackled the current and future challenges that face the education system and stressed the importance to adopt the remote learning approach to combat the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the education system at present and in the future. Mr. Andreas Schleicher also reviewed some global issues covered in the curriculum such as PISA, OECD average as well as PISA's definition of global competence. Mr. Schleicher indicated that the schools and the world's most successful education systems are capable of promoting knowledge, skills and global attitudes among their students. They can make a real difference through their general education policies among their students, offer an approach that values openness to the world, and provide a positive and inclusive learning environment, as well as opportunities to communicate with other people cultures; in addition to the need for highly equipped teachers to teach global competence based on school principals' reports.


Dr. Bethany Fishbein, Assistant Research Director for Psychometrics & Data Analysis - IEA's TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center, Boston College - United States, presented a paper titled: 'High Stake Examinations and the Future of Schools Shifting to Electronic Platforms'. She tackled the importance of examinations and how their impact on taking decisions regarding students and schools in general. These examinations assess learning outcomes according to specific criteria and expectations, as well as monitoring progress in order to develop and use their results in redirecting different resources. Dr. Fishbein also indicated the importance of the shift from paper-based to electronic examinations, and the shift of many paper-based evaluation programmes to digital evaluation.


Mr. Tony McAleavy, Research Director for Education Development Trust, British Teachers Center, Education Trust – UK, delivered a paper titled: 'Lessons from the Pandemic: How can we best get back to the school system?' in which he tackled bridging the gap, upholding justice that requires accurate data on students, and focusing on dropout students. He also referred to the disastrous consequences that the pandemic had caused to justice as it deepens the gap between high performing and dropout students, which requires a database to account for the number of dropout students; for planning and resource allocation to assist this category of students. Mr. McAleavy also highlighted the importance of clear roles for teachers and school principals and provision of the best professional development programmes.


The theme of 'QA in a Changing World: Pressing Issues in Virtual Learning' was discussed by Mr. Douglas Blackstock, Chief Executive, Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education – UK. He spoke about 'A in a Changing World' by discussing a number of themes on the actions taken during the pandemic by many foreign countries, the elements needed to maintain the quality of institutions adopting virtual learning, and in collaboration with relevant partners. He also discussed the future implications of the quality of higher education institutions beyond the pandemic.


Dr. Tess Goodliffe, a higher education quality consultant based in France delivered a paper titled: 'External Quality Implications of Higher Education Institutions in Remote Learning,' in which she discussed various concepts of remote learning and the current adopted platforms, as well as implications for external quality reviews of higher education institutions, and how a review of higher education institutions was conducted under remote learning. Dr. Goodliffe referred to the standards and criteria used to evaluate remote learning and the important implications of external reviews of the quality of higher education institutions.​