Bahrain introduced government-sponsored education in 1919, the first nation in the GCC to do so. Today, Bahrain is proud of its public schools, where students enjoy a free education. There are, as well, a number of top-rate, fee-based private schools, offering tutorial in the American, British, French, Indian, Urdu and Japanese traditions. From 1995-2000, Bahrain enjoyed the highest literacy rate among Arab countries, according to the United Nations Human Development Report (2001).
Higher education has blossomed as the Bahraini economy increasingly demands specialized skills. High school graduates from Bahrain are flocking to the West to pursue higher education. Accordingly, the demand for learning institutions and programs in Bahrain is growing. As Bahrain's investment grows, so too will opportunities for international investors establish world-class academic and training facilities in the Kingdom. The future will demand top-quality facilities to educate a new generation of globally-aware Gulf citizens.
Presently, Bahrain has two institutions of higher learning: the University of Bahrain, and the Arabian Gulf University. There are also several language centers, including the Polyglot School, the British Council Teaching Center, the Cambridge School of English, Berlitz and Alliance Francaise. The University of Maryland and DePaul University offer correspondence programs to Bahrainis. Vocational training facilities include the Bahrain Institute for Banking and Finance, Bahrain Training Institute (BTI), Bahrain Institute of Technology and the Gulf College for Hospitality and Tourism. Several computer training institutes are offered, too.
In one particular area—entrepreneurship—Bahrain hopes to strengthen the advances made over the years. The Bahrain Training Institute has launched an initiative aimed at nurturing the necessary skills among Bahraini citizens. Under this initiative, job-seekers learn to finance and operate their own businesses.
On the whole, the GCC market—especially Saudi Arabia—is a key target market for Bahrain's educational industry. The cosmopolitan environment in Bahrain attracts dependents of workers in neighboring countries to live and study.
Foreign investors seeking to start education and vocational training projects fully qualify for 100% ownership of their endeavors. Visas for non-Bahraini instructors are available. Investors seeking to open private schools or institutions of higher learning should contact the Ministry of Education.