BU Wheelock Program Advances Educational Leadership in Bahrain

Recently, Dean David Chard and a team of faculty, including Lisa Ijiri, Stacy Scott, Pipier Smith-Mumford, and Robert Weintraub, visited Bahrain to experience firsthand the BU Wheelock partnership with the Bahrain Teachers College. While in Bahrain, the BU Wheelock team visited the college and met with graduate students enrolled in the program, as well as a number of leaders, including Bahrain’s minister of education and the president of the University of Bahrain. 

Four students and the Crown Prince of Bahrain
Bahrain Teachers College students Mohamed Alawainati, Noora Aljawder, Shaikha Alfadhala, and Lateefa Aldoy, with the Crown Prince of Bahrain

Launched in 2022, the partnership offers practicing and aspiring school leaders the opportunity to earn an online master’s degree in educational leadership & policy studies through BU Wheelock. Although Bahrain Teachers College already provided a solid baccalaureate education to aspiring teachers, it did not have any graduate programs for Bahraini teachers who want to sharpen their skills. A Boston University alumna on the Bahrain Teachers College governing board connected the college and BU Wheelock.

“The college has educated thousands of baccalaureate-level students very effectively in a very short period of time,” says Ijiri. “They now have the capacity to offer graduate programs.”

Composed of 24 students, the first cohort started taking classes virtually in fall 2022. The eight-course degree will take them about two years to complete. And the partnership goes beyond providing students with a strong postgraduate education—with a predominantly female cohort, it is also encouraging women to become leaders in their communities. “This program supports Bahrain’s vision for aspiring educators for both men and women,” says Scott.

The Bahraini students’ newfound expertise in educational leadership and policy has already had an impact. Four students—Noora Aljawder, Shaikha Alfadhala, Mohamed Alawainati, and Lateefa Aldoy—recently won the public vote for an annual competition sponsored by the crown prince of Bahrain. The coveted Fikra prize is awarded to Bahrainis who develop innovative solutions for the public sector. “The students’ innovative system for teacher evaluation is expected to revolutionize the practice of teaching in the very near future,” says Scott.

Although the curriculum is largely the same as the one used by US students, BU Wheelock faculty have grown from their experiences teaching in a new culture—for instance, needing to adapt their classes to allow observant Muslims to say their daily prayers. At the same time, faculty and students have found much common ground as educators.

“Some of the same challenges we’re seeing in public schools here are similar to the ones they’re finding over there,” Ijiri says. “There are more similarities than people expected going into this partnership.”