Expat education certificates clamp proposed in Bahrain

Under the proposal, the certificates must not only be genuine but also from universities, colleges and institutes accredited by the Higher Educational Council

  
Image used for illustrative purpose. Skyline with Bahrain World Trade Center in Manama, Bahrain.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Skyline with Bahrain World Trade Center in Manama, Bahrain.

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Expatriates could be forced to present genuine qualification certificates to prove their eligibility for certain jobs, under a proposal approved unanimously by Parliament during its weekly yesterday.

The approval came after two hours of debate over amendments to the 2006 Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) Law presented by five MPs, led by first vice-chairman Abdulnabi Salman.

The proposal was backed by the services committee which highlighted the risks some unqualified or underqualified expats pose in positions such as doctors, pharmacists, teachers or engineers.

Under the proposal, the certificates must not only be genuine but also from universities, colleges and institutes accredited by the Higher Educational Council.

The LMRA had opposed the move saying that legislators were interfering in an organisational administrative matter with such process already in practice since 2008.

Urging a rethink, the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) said the matter could be decided by the employer, accepting an equivalent qualification or specialisation from a recognised educational institution if the specific credentials were not met.

However, the National Committee for Academic Qualifications approved the proposal, saying it would ensure the employment of suitable candidates.

Bahrain Parliament Bloc president Ahmed Al Salloom, who is also BCCI board member, said the move would ensure that everyone hired is on the same level of qualification.

“Bahrainis are subject to intensive checks of their educational and security eligibility to ensure they are qualified to handle specific responsibilities,” he said.

“The same should apply to everyone, even those recruited from abroad.”

Ghazi Al Rahma pointed out that Bahraini graduates are forced to get their certificates authenticated before seeking jobs or applying for allowances from the Unemployment Fund.

“The same doesn’t apply to expats hired as professionals, while there is no guarantee that they are what they claim to be,” he said.

“Just recently, in a neighbouring GCC country, it was found that some medics who had been working for years had fake certificates.

“Imagine the damage to society an unqualified doctor, engineer and teacher can do.”

Dr Hisham Al Asheeri said the discovery of fake certificates in Bahrain years ago was highlighted by people on the Internet before the government took notice.

“A number of expats, currently working in Bahrain, had posted their certificates on Facebook and LinkedIn which turned out to be from universities not accredited by authorities here,” he said.

Zainab Abdulameer demanded that MPs boycott all businesses that refuse to accept the authentication of expat certificates.

The proposal was referred to the Cabinet to be drafted as a law and returned to the National Assembly within six months.

mohammed@gdn.com.bh

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