Parents of expatriate students could be forced to pay BD100 a month to have their children educated in government schools, if MPs have their way.
Parliament is set to debate the new proposal presented by five MPs, led by Mamdooh Al Saleh, during its weekly session on Tuesday.
The Education Ministry has warned MPs against amending the 2005 Education Law, saying it would cause more harm than good.
“Children of Bahraini mothers and children of expats under government contracts get free education,” said the ministry. “We stopped accepting expatriate students in government schools in 2018 and those remaining will eventually finish grade 12.
The Civil Service Commission added, in writing, that the move would cause a financial blow too.
“For rare specialisations we need to attract individuals from abroad and most want to come with their families,” it said. “If the government doesn’t provide their children with free education then we will have to pay much more under contractual obligations with private schools.”
Excluded under the new bill proposal, which is recommended for approval by the services committee, are GCC nationals and the children of Bahraini mothers.
“Free education is for Bahraini nationals and not expats,” said Mr Al Saleh in his written explanation. “Why is the government borrowing money to satisfy and cater the needs of expats when it is not a constitutional or international obligation?
“The move will ensure much-needed state revenue, while ensuring that spending is directed towards nationals.”
The actual number of expatriate children, mostly of Egyptian and Syrian heritage, currently being educated in state schools, and how many of those would be affected, is not known. Clarification is likely to come during the debate.
The National Institution for Human Rights has told MPs in writing that it would wait for a clearer version of the bill, which would be drafted by the government within six months as proper law if the proposal gets approved by legislators.
Meanwhile, MPs will also debate amendments to the 2006 Insurance Against Unemployment Law that would see BD20m taken out annually to support in-job training programme Chances (Foras).
The services committee has backed the move saying it would ensure the programme launched in 2019 gains pace.
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