A CALL to build a better world through education without borders went out from Bahrain yesterday. Education is the most important factor in improving stability, productivity and prosperity of a society, said His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Economic Development Board chairman. For this reason, constant upgrading of education is a cornerstone of Bahrain's national strategy, he said.
He was speaking at the opening of the British Schools in the Middle East (BSME) Annual Conference for head teachers, at Diplomat Radisson Blu Hotel, Residence and Spa.
Education Minister Dr Majid Al Nuaimi, conference chairman and St Christopher's School principal Edward Goodwin, head teachers and educational specialists from the region attended.
The five-day event deals with strategic and operational matters, including aiming for a comprehensive BSME accreditation system.
The Crown Prince said that in the advancement of human development and culture, British education drew its creative, scientific and moral riches from giants such as Shakespeare, Newton and Churchill.
"That is why many people think education is Britain's greatest export," he said.
"It is a pleasure and a privilege for us to welcome you once again to Bahrain, especially when your chairperson is Ed Goodwin. St Christopher's is a mini-United Nations. Its students have come from no fewer than 50 countries to live and learn together.
"Many governments could learn from your example of how to collaborate, learn and grow together, how to embrace the truth that what unites our small world is greater than what divides us.
"Our ambition in Bahrain is to build a society as open to the world as possible, with investment, trade and partnership regardless of borders. So we view with admiration the seriousness and commitment with which BSME provides education without frontiers."
The Crown Prince said education was the partner of good government and the prerequisite of economic growth. In a global economy education need not stop at borders.
"We have initiated the Education Project, a multi-national dialogue among the world's foremost education leaders, to help shape the future of education around the world.
"Our common vision is that a decent education should be the right of everyone, without regard to nationality, gender or income.
"The project seeks solutions to the widening inequality gap between schools in the wealthy and the poorest nations. We must find solutions and they must be scaled for the widest possible implementation, with no country left behind."
He said the BSME's 70 schools and 5,000 teachers in 13 countries are entrusted with inspiring and guiding 70,000 young people to adulthood. A similar duty rests with governments in a fast-changing, competitive, hi-tech world."
As employment becomes ever more skilled, education and training become more important in growing an economy, he said. "From a government's perspective, experience tells us that when individuals have the opportunity to learn basic life and literacy skills, the economy grows faster, prosperity rises and poverty rates fall.
"From the individual's perspective, a good school and inspirational teachers unlock your creativity."
Such components empower individuals to go forward to acquire better jobs. "They enable you to be a stronger support for your family and a better citizen of your community."
Education is a win-win partnership between individuals and government, enabling individuals to reach their full potential and governments to increase economic competitiveness, he said.
"Teaching is not a static process as new ideas cascade all the time and new systems to make the classroom a better preparation of the world of adult family life as work and citizenship.
"We all gain because a British education of the quality you provide is our best bridge of understanding, friendship and mutually beneficial relationships with the UK and the wider English-speaking world."
Conference speakers include GEMS Education schools chief Ralph Tabberer, Independent Thinking founder and managing director Ian Gilbert, World Council of Gifted and Talented Children executive panel member Dr David George, authors David Hodgson and Will Ryan and European Mentoring and Coaching Council member Andy Vass.
The Bookcase, Buckinghamshire County Council, Brynteg Books International, Cambridge Education, Clarity in Sound, and Light and Vision, among others, are taking part in an exhibition opened by Dr Al Nuaimi.