There is a high level of government support for education in Bahrain. As a result, Bahrain has one of the highest literacy rates in the Arab world (84% of the adult population). Public education is free for boys and girls for six years of primary school, three years at the intermediate level and three years of secondary school.
Children attend school from Saturday to Wednesday. School supplies, uniforms, meals and transportation to and from school are all provided free of charge.
In addition to the public school system, many private and religious schools offer primary, intermediate and secondary education. Some private schools serve specific communities. They include the Asian School, the Indian School, Catholic schools and the United States-operated and -accredited Bahrain International School.
The first institution of higher learning in Bahrain, Gulf Polytechnic, was established in 1968. In 1984, Gulf Polytechnic was merged with the University College of Art, Science and Education, founded in 1979, to create the University of Bahrain. Today the university has an enrolment of about 9,000 students and offers the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees, as well as graduate diplomas and master's degrees in education, civil engineering and business administration.
The other university in Bahrain is the smaller Arabian Gulf University. This university was established by the six member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and construction began in 1984. The development of programs and facilities has been slow because of the drop in oil prices in the mid-1980s. The first faculty, the College of Medicine, opened in 1989. The projected completion date for the campus is 2006.
Bahrain also has a College of Health Services,
which offers various medical technology and nurses' training programs,
and a Hotel and Catering Training Centre, which offers postsecondary
vocational courses in hotel management and culinary arts. Many children
of wealthy Bahrainis travel abroad, particularly to the United Kingdom
and the United States, to further their education.