Building for the future
NEW schools are starting to take shape in the kingdom as a recent study suggests Bahrain’s private education market will boom in the next five years with further consolidation and competition.
According to a new report by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), entitled ‘Where to Invest Now in the GCC Private Education’, Bahrain’s private ‘kindergarten to sixth form’ education market valued at $0.4 billion in 2017 is poised to grow to $0.7 billion in the next five years.
The news comes in the wake of developments in the sector with a new school set to open in September, another pushing ahead with plans to open the following year and three well-established operations planning major expansions.
The new BD8m Beacon Private School is being developed and supported by the Dadabhai Group, a leading business group in the kingdom.
Located in Hidd, the school will cover an area of 30,660sqm and be able to accommodate around 1,800 students ranging from nursery through to Grade 12.
However, for the initial year starting in September this year, places will be available at the nursery and kindergarten levels and Grades 1 to 5.
Bahrain-based education management and consultancy organisation Education Development and Innovation Centre managing director Samir Chammaa was appointed to set up the school and told GulfWeekly there have been some ‘important developments’ in recent weeks.’
“All required works are proceeding on time and this assures us that we will be opening the school in September for the 2018-2019 school year!” Samir said.
That includes the pre-school building being completed and furnished. Following visits from representatives of the Municipality, Road Directorate and the Directorate of Civil Defence all recommendations made have been implemented.
The structural works on the elementary school building have also been completed, and the remaining works and furnishing are expected to be completed before the end of June.
As its curricula and instructional resources have all been given the green light, the next move will be to request the authorisation of the Ministry of Education after the completion and approval of the second building.
As reported earlier in GulfWeekly, a new school campus is being built in Bahrain for the arrival of King’s Group, one of the world’s most prestigious international educational institutions.
The school, which will be constructed on land measuring 25,000sqm, is expected to be completed by the second half of 2018 and will cater to 1,700 pupils once at full capacity.
King’s Group currently has nine schools in the UK, Spain, Panama and Latvia, as well as a network of UK academies.
The Bahrain campus is being built in partnership with Bin Faqeeh Education on the outskirts of Manama. Once construction work has been completed an opening school date has been projected for no later than September 2019.
Like its sister schools in the King’s Group, the college in Bahrain will offer the UK national curriculum and the students will learn from native British and British-trained teachers.
There’s been silence since last August about how plans are progressing, Shaní Gerszenzon, PR & Press Officer, King’s Group, last week said: “Yes, we are opening the new school in Bahrain. It will open in September 2019.”
But that’s nothing compared to the long wait faced by parents at St Christopher’s School who were told back in 2011 there were plans to build a new senior school. The ‘iconic campus’ would replace the existing Isa Town facility, initially accommodate 1,250 students and be designed to allow for further expansion to 1,600.
It appears St Christopher’s dream of obtaining a site near its infant and junior premises in Saar is progressing well and senior students recently spotted an assistant head teacher taking photographs of a model of the proposed new building.
From its modest beginnings in a villa in 1961, St Christopher’s has grown to a joint-site operation with 2,000 students, aged from three to 18. A newly-build state-of-the-art facility would make a notable welcoming gift from the school governors to Dr Simon Watson when he arrives from Malaysia in the summer to take over as principal, and the realisation of departing veteran educationist Ed Goodwin’s dream.
Meanwhile, as reported in GulfWeekly this week, both the British School of Bahrain and Nadeen School are hunting for land to expand their facilities.
Whilst St Christopher’s may be unique in its non-profit philosophy, across the GCC the private education market is becoming a magnet for investors and is expected to double over the next five years.
The expatriate population is growing, Bahrainis are increasingly interested in private schools, and the government is offering incentives to attract private and foreign investment, the BCG report says.
Maya El Hachem, BCG principal, said: “Bahrain is a highly fragmented market, with no large-scale operators.
“There is a need for high-quality private international schools with low- to mid-range fees. By encouraging healthy competition, the country can benefit from its investor-friendly environment with fewer barriers to entry than the rest of the GCC region.”
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