| 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The project has examined research provided by key agencies such as Ministry of Education (MoE), EDB and Labor Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA), also undertook stakeholder forums and multiple enterprises providing input recommendations for the SVEP model.
The action plan:
o Diagnostic phase (2006 - 2007)
o The diagnostic revealed multiple opportunities to improve output from the education system such as:
• Achievement levels in core subjects to be improved across all levels of the system.
• Only 12% of technical school graduates enter labor market directly after graduation, and only 4% obtain work in their field of study.
• 50% of private sector companies claim that there is gap between the needs of the labor market and the skills graduates acquire during their studies.
• 50% of students at the University of Bahrain (UOB) in their first two years are failing.
• More options required to allow students to study courses that match needs of the labor market.
o Determining the reform initiatives and the implementation plan (2007-2008)
o Formation of Advisory group:
• Responsible for managing and overseeing the project
• Assisted the working teams in resolving any obstacles
• Discussed the recommendations and took major decisions
• Developed the initiatives and the implementation plans
• Consulted the stakeholders on the initiatives and the implementation plans
o Begin implementation (2006-2008)
o Pilot Implementation
• A pilot group of teachers formed and necessary Induction Programme provided along with travel to Melbourne, Australia, for an intensive training program.
o Curriculum Framework
• Developed a curriculum based on framework for identified industry sectors for foundation year, years 2 and 3. Report on appropriate industry sector OSs development for Individual Pathways Plan was developed and Career Guidance program developed and delivered.
o Apprenticeship System
• Communications/marketing campaign conducted to attract students from the Intermediate schools to join the new vocational course.
• Monitoring and Evaluation instruments developed to assess the progress of the project.
• Tools for Continuous Assessment evaluation of Technical subjects were developed and implemented on the pilot groups and the version has gone through further improvements over the years and effectively used across all the schools.
o Full Implementation
• Industry involvement strategies developed and process established to engage the industry through appropriate governmental procedures.
• Industry supervisors selected and provided the necessary Induction/training.
• SWL organized for the pilot group and followed up by Industry Liaison Officers (ILOs). Girl students had the opportunity for the first time to go on SWL. Provisions were made to follow-up with them through female ILOs at workplaces.
• Teachers were trained by the Australian experts to prepare trainers for future teacher training programmes.
Chronology - Milestones:
• 2 Pilot groups of Apprenticeship started one each in Technical School & Commercial School leading to General Secondary Vocational Education Certificate (GSVEC).
• Replication of Project at in 2 schools.
• Replication of Project in 2 Technical and 1 Commercial school.
• Development of GSVEC Vocational Specific Skills (VSS) Assessment tool for Continuous Assessment.
• Replication of Project in 2 Technical and 1 Commercial school.
• Development of GSVEC Assessment Packs for all VSS Subjects.
• First batch GSVEC students roll out from the system.
• Implementation of GSVEC Quality system involving a Moderation team for audit purposes in 9 Schools.
• Second batch GSVEC students roll out from the system
• Computer Hardware specialization opened for Girls in Commercial School.
• GSVEC Quality System implemented.
• Replication of Project in 1 Commercial school.
• Third batch GSVEC students roll out from the system.
• Fourth batch GSVEC students roll out from the system.
• Fifth batch GSVEC students roll out from the system.
• First batch GSVEC Technical Girls Students roll out from the system.
| 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
• Secondary school students.
The involvement and participation of students played an important role in various stages of the project. The response and feedback at each stage were vital for the successful implementation as it was targeted to ensure that these students achieve the expected outcomes of the project.
The needs of the students were identified by:
• EDB, is the main authority in the implementation of Vision 2030 in which Educational reforms was one of the objectives.
• LMRA, provided MoE with the necessary data through a survey, which served as the start for the initiative.
• MoE, was the host and organizer for the execution of the project in its secondary schools. MoE formed a team under a Project manager with a group of Educational Specialists to work in coordination with Ministry of Labor (MoL) in the initial surveys & the service providers to implement the project.
The MoE was supported by several internal resources:
• Planning and Information
• Financial Resources and Services
At the Schools by:
• Head Master
• Assistant Head Master
The Service providers:
• Department of Education, Victoria (DOE) & Holmesglen Institute of TAFE (HIT)
They were the service providers for the SVEP, executing the project in phases with the help of their specialists and MoE counterparts over 3 years.
The project was well supported by Industry experts:
• Private Sector Advisory Committee (PSAC)
PSAC comprised of representatives from the Labor market extending their support in designing various policies and contributing to development of appropriate OSs for the curriculum.
• OSR Committee
This Committee comprised of representatives from Industry, Ministries, Curriculum department & Teachers to choose, review and update relevant OSs to be delivered in schools.
• SWL Committee
Representatives from industry who supported MoE in SWL work placement.
• Center of Excellence (CoE)
Involved with teachers training program.
Provided moral support.
| 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
One of the important initiatives implemented by EDB as part of the Economic reforms in Bahrain was Improving Secondary Vocational Education aiming to bring SVEP closer to the needs of the private sector. Hence, EDB sponsored the budget and majority of resources for the implementation of SVEP.
The following resources were dedicated to the SVEP initiative:
• International Service providers.
The project phase of SVEP was implemented in collaboration with DOE, Australia. This was to learn from their experience in the area of Vocational Education and Training, therefore, the knowledge gained by training 2 groups of teachers led to the effective replication of the project in other schools in a phased manner. This empowered us with required knowledge and skills and enhanced the ability to share.
• Teachers for implementation of the project.
Initially, the SVEP required additional human resources as the MoE had agreed to allocate pilot teachers reduced teaching loads to enable them to attend professional development programs and develop teaching/learning materials. In the replication, teachers will also have reduced teaching loads as they implement these programs for the first time.
As vocational programs in schools are resource intensive this was a constraining factor throughout the life of the Project. Apart from financial costs, consideration had to be given for availability of suitably qualified and cooperative teachers, appropriate workplaces in rolling out the model across all schools.
• Supervisory staff in Industries/companies during SWL.
There were also financial implications for enterprises participating within the model as workplace supervision of students is labor intensive and takes critical staff away from ‘normal’ work duties. The contribution of the labor market in terms of man hours is worth mentioning.
• Extra equipment as determined by industry standards (both Occupational and Employability) such as:
- Personal Computers (Windows & Macintosh).
- Smart Boards
- Active Boards
- Simulation Laboratories
- Multimedia Laboratories
- Multimedia equipment
- Electronics Trainer kits
- Technical Software such as Autocad, Electrical and Electronic Drawing Software.
- Multimedia software such as Adobe, Photoshop.
In the long term, a slight increase (about 10 %) in recurrent funding for this project is anticipated for the "on the job" component of the program.
• The project implementation cost was borne by the EDB as part of the Educational reforms budget. One of the major external costs being the remuneration for the Service providers. However, these costs were manageable and not recurrent as the available internal resources were effectively utilized in the later stages of the project.
• The running cost of the project has been ably managed with the routine budget allocations.
Return on Investment
The return on investment cannot be directly assessed as the SVEP is able to produce skilled human resources for the country in the future years to come. However, it will aid the economic reforms by way of self-reliance by taking up suitable capacity building measures with the available human resources within the country, which would reduce unemployment level, and reducing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
| 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The following outputs contributed greatly in the SVEP initiative:
Participation of vocational students in the leaning process was enhanced due to the transformative approach from conventional learning to PBL. Students’ creativity, innovativeness and employability skills improved because of the implementation of PBL, which fostered students’ interaction with their peers, inculcated in them leadership traits and confidence.
Students were provided equal opportunities and feedback on their performance at every stage through unique assessment tools. In addition, they were guided to choose appropriate pathways through CPD subjects included in the curriculum. Vocational students proved their confidence facing the workplace environment because they were given the chance for hands-on training through SWL.
2. Establishment of Industry Engagement Unit.
SWL placement opportunities almost doubled through the establishment of Industry Engagement Unit (IEU) with dedicated ILOs. ILOs were instrumental in promoting the SVEP in the labor market.
Employability skills of the graduates were strengthened due to inclusive follow-up while on SWL by both the Industry Supervisors and the ILOs. SWL for girls has been an exciting experience, which is an encouraging drift from the culture prevailing in this part of the world.
3. Private sector participation
• The graduates were prepared for the labor market not only with skills acquired from SWL but also through the contextual curriculum contents. Contextual curriculum contents were developed with the contribution of the OSR Committee with representatives from the labor market.
• Students were given opportunities of suitable On-the-job-Training placements relevant to their specializations by the assistance of SWL Committee.
4. Introduction of demand driven specializations.
The students have a wider choice to choose their career pathways in the schools by the introduction of demand driven specializations such as:
• Computer Hardware for Girls.
• Mobile Technology.
• Medical Equipment.
• Plant Maintenance.
• Office Equipment.
Female students were enrolled into Computer Hardware specialization, introducing technical subject for the girls, a unique venture, has been getting favorable response from the female students and their parents. This is one opportunity for females to enter into an otherwise male dominated technical area providing them with equal opportunities.
5. Introduction of CPD in the curriculum.
CPD contributed in enhancing the much needed employability skills in the students. CPD was imparted through relevant projects carried out by the students, which helped students in personal development and career exploration in having a better perception about their choice of careers. CPD Teachers/Coordinators have been nominated in all schools.
| 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Monitoring and evaluation team was set up to draft Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) with number of Performance Indicators (PI) and Desired Outcomes (DOC) for the SVEP.
Once the KPIs and Performance Indicators were agreed, following were developed:
• Source of data for each KPI.
• Frequency of reporting.
• Responsibility for reporting.
• Detailed definition of data and accessible data for comparison to measure change.
The KPIs were set with the certain PIs to monitor and evaluate the project based on the DOC as follows:
KPI: Effective course content and design
PIs: Ratings on the quality of the curriculum by:
- Industry/Student/parents/Teachers/School management
DOC: - Curriculum matches exactly private sector/industry needs.
- Curriculum embraces both professional and personal needs of students for a successful future.
KPI: Effective industry partnerships
PIs: - Number and type of companies in active contact with the pilot schools
- Level of employer satisfaction with the apprentices during the work placement
- Employment outcomes for pilot students
DOC: - Enough companies are actively involved in the pilots and more companies want to join.
- All students find suitable work placement in their field of interest.
- Employers are very satisfied and willing to take more students.
KPI: Improved teaching
PIs: - School management ratings on the quality of the teachers
- Student ratings on the quality of the teachers.
- Pilot students achievement compared to non-pilot students
DOC: - Teacher’s competence and commitment is improved as perceived by school management, students and the teachers themselves.
- Improved student performance outcomes relating to technical and employability skills.
KPI: Level of sustainability
PIs: - Number of counterparts undertakes SVEP training.
- Number of new counterpart skills developed as a result of SVEP training.
- Number of trained teachers now ready to coach other teachers.
DOC: - School and MoE counterparts are prepared, capable and motivated to ensure the reforms continue when the project concludes.
- Most teachers have been trained across school to ensure a smooth extension of the pilot.
KPI: Recognition and impact of pilots.
PIs: - Number of people knowing about the pilot and having positive opinion of it.
- Number of “positive” articles published in the newspapers.
- Number of Papers presented at International forums.
- Mindset of students/parents: openness to non-University programs.
DOC: - Non-pilot students, parents and employers are aware of pilot and want to be part of it.
- Monthly once one positive/informative article in newspapers.
| 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
In the implementation of projects focused at transition from SBL to WBL, it is obvious that quite a few obstacles were expected and encountered. These obstacles were overcome professionally with the unstinted support from the Project Management team, EDB and the school management.
o Initial refutation by Teachers and Head of sections to the new approach in teaching.
- Familiarization sessions on SVEP held for Teachers, Head of sections and Head Masters, Assistant Head Masters to give them awareness and inculcate a sense of belongingness.
- Special sessions on Project based learning conducted for teachers.
o Lack of initial support for the reforms from wider MoE stakeholders, and community.
- Communications strategy developed to ensure high quality communication with all the stakeholders especially MoE, schools, teachers, parents and students.
o The private sector needs to embrace a model of apprenticeship for the upper secondary in order for the reforms to be fully implemented.
- On the job pilot implemented. PSAC established to ensure effective communication strategies and consultation with private sector. Developed well supported strategies to engage private sector.
o Project board, PMO and government decision making with regard to the strategies for engaging the private sector in supporting apprenticeships.
- Governance, management and change control structure introduced.
- Used PMO project management tools to monitor agreed decision-making timelines and escalate any decision-making issues early to respective partner.
o Teachers are mostly expatriates who do not stay long in the schools and have mixed commitments. Bahraini teachers are attracted to higher private sector wages.
- Strategy being developed to employ part time teachers.
- Introduced incentives to retain teachers. Explored possibility of employing industry specialists as part time teachers.
o Delay in developing Occupational Standards (OS).
- 3 years of curriculum including OSs developed.
- Developed a complete course document.