*** ----> Ministry not obliged to enrol students under 6 in schools: Al Nuaimi | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Ministry not obliged to enrol students under 6 in schools: Al Nuaimi

ManamaEducation Ministry is not obliged to enrol students under the age of six in the first stage of public schools, Education Minister Dr. Majid Al Nuaimi told MPs yesterday.

The Minister’s statement came while replying to the queries of MP Mohammed Al Jowder at the House of Representatives with regards to not enrolling students who are months below the age of six in public schools this year.

Dr. Al Nuami affirmed that the Kingdom’s Law of Education stipulates that “primary education is a right of children who are six years old at the time of the beginning of the school year and the Kingdom is obliged to provide them with this service”.

“However, there are three conditions to accept students below this age. These include the availability at the schools and not exceeding their capacity, so it wouldn’t have a negative impact on the educational process. The second condition is to ensure equal opportunities for students, so no younger students of one area would be accepted while others of the same age are rejected in other areas. The last condition is prioritising students who completed six years of age by the beginning of the new school year and ensure that they are all enrolled in schools,” the minister explained.

He further elaborated, “This year, the ministry succeeded in providing school seats for all six-year-old children. After studying the remaining vacancies in the schools, students born in September, October and November, 2011 (1-3 months less than the age of six), were also accepted. This is the maximum that the ministry has been able to register according to the available vacancies. The numbers absorbed in public schools (less than the age of six) are more than 3, 400 children of both genders. This is  equivalent to the capacity of 5 new primary schools. This is a huge burden borne by the ministry and its budget. Those born in December 2011, were estimated to be 1, 300 children, and they were all not accepted.”

The minister added that “most countries in the world, including the developed countries, make registration in the first grade of primary school for those who have completed six years (for example the European Union countries and other states such as Australia, Sweden and Finland)”.

“This is mainly due to the educational-psychological considerations, where many educational studies indicate that the appropriate age for starting a primary school is at least six years of age, since the child before that age is not fully able to absorb and may have difficulties. Before that age he or she must enjoy their full childhood, undertake activities and learn some basic skills in preparation for their integration into school,” Dr. Al Nuaimi added.

It’s noteworthy that the MP’s queries followed a public outcry earlier this year, complaining about the rejection of the ministry to register children below the age of six in the first stage of primary education this school year, claiming that the ministry’s decision would have a negative impact on their children’s education.