Bahrain field trip
Students from MSc Human Resource Development (International Development) went on the trip in March 2016.
The MSc Human Resource Development (International Development) group visited Bahrain for their annual field trip from 19 – 26 March 2016. They were hosted by the Bahrain Society of Training and Development Society (BSTD), which is an NGO supported by the Bahraini government and is responsible for national HRD planning and skills development, in close alliance with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of HRD. The HRD (ID) group attended the 45th IFTDO World Conference and Exhibition which was under the patronage of the Prime Minister of Bahrain – H.R.H. Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, where they listened to keynote presentations from Ministers and Development Policy Specialists principally from Nigeria, the Middle East, Malaysia and other developing countries. The BSTD executives Eman Al Qahtani, Ahmed Attiya, and the President of BSTD, Mohamed Mahmood graciously provided insights on human development challenges faced by the Arab Gulf.
The IFTDO is an arm of the UN with a special focus on human, organization and state capacity building. The conference theme of ‘Developing Leaders’ was directly aligned to the core HRD (ID) modules and key themes in GDI on sustainability and capacity building. This included presentations on ‘HRD and Sustainable Development’ and broader issues of energy and environmental resource management in the Gulf by the Energy Minister of Bahrain, ‘National Skills Development in the Gulf by the Bahrain Education Minister, and Leadership Development Policy in Saudi Aram Co by the HRD Director of Saudi AramCo – the first woman to be appointed to this executive role. Dr Metcalfe, one the HRD (ID) Directors also presented a keynote presentation on ‘Developing Women’s Leadership Capabilities in the Arab Gulf’. The presentation acknowledged the unique governance and institutional frameworks of Bahrain, premised on Islamic Shar ‘ia and the Bahrain Constitution agreed in 2000 where 97% of the population voted in support of the constitution. Dr Metcalfe was also honoured to be hosted by the Bahrain Prime Minister, H.R.H. Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa for lunch with other BSTD colleagues.
The group visited the Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company (GPIC), one of the leading energy companies in the world and were provided insights into GPIC’s strategies for HRD by Lulwa Isa Abdullah Al Mualli, the HRD Training Officer for GPIC, and also learnt about the company’s environment and broader development strategies. The group also visited the Supreme Council for Women (SCW) which is not only responsible for women’s empowerment and development planning in Bahrain, but also liaises with the Arab League for Women to, the UN Women based in Manama Bahrain and the GCC, to support overall human well-being. The visit to the SCW was significant as this was the first time that men had been permitted to enter the SCW, and they were honoured to have Princess Amani Saleh Sharah present plans for Bahrain women’s empowerment. This included entrepreneurship support, leadership development in public administration, and also preparing women for government roles, as Bahrain is planning to introduce quotas for women in political participation.
The group also visited the Ministry of Youth and Sports Affairs where the strategies for youth education and employability were outlined, which provided a critical insight into comparative education systems which is part of the HRD (ID) syllabus. The group also met Ms Wafa Alammadi, the Director, Human and Financial Resources of the Human and Financial Resources Directorate of the Ministry as well as Mr Aziz Ali Aradi the HR and Administration Manager of the Labour Market Regulatory Authority. The HRD (ID) group also had the opportunity to liaise with students/groups from Universities in Bahrain, while the President of the BSTD (Mohammed Mahmood) and an Executive of BSTD (Ahmed Mahmood Attiya) provided many details of the BSTD activities, and also the Secretary General of IFTDO Dr Uddesh Kohli whose headquarters’ are in New Dehli, India. We were also hosted to a Gala Dinar by the BSTD at the prestigious ART Rotana Hotel, Amawaj Island, where the University was presented with an award.
Overall, the HRD (ID) group felt that the fieldwork was an amazing development experience, as they acquired practical knowledge of HRD systems in practice in the Middle East, and also learnt about a cultural environment none had experienced before. This involved meeting lots of senior leaders in government Ministries, the private sector and NGOs. The benefits of the fieldwork are perhaps best represented by the fact that several students will be exploring/taking up the opportunity to work in Bahrain in various HRD roles after they graduate.
The fieldwork was led by the Directors of the MSc HRD (ID) programme – Dr Beverly Metcalfe and Dr Kelechi Ekuma, with support from three PhD students, Zhen Chen (Clarke), Luang Huang (Sweetie) and Jaiwen Xia, while Elaine Jones and Amy Grandidge provided excellent professional support services. Many thanks to everyone who made this fieldtrip a huge success, especially the Fieldwork Team of the School of Environment, Education and Development (SEED) and wonderful colleagues from the BSTD.