Saudi Education

Figure 1.--A teacher in Saudi Arabia has sent us sone class images in 2000. The school was an private internatuoinal school attended by expat childre from other Muslim countries. This was a private school with a British curriculum. "Here are pictures of the happy learners in my class. They are savoriong the lollypop rewards and the fun they had before they ate them."

Saudi Arabia at the time of World War II did not have a modern education system. What educatioin that existed was almost entirely Islamic. The younger children attended madrasas which essentially taught the Koran with a major focus on memorization and recitation. Girls were not educated. The oil industry which was developed after the War brought vast wealth to the Kingdom. The Government has made education a major priority, describing it as the bedrock of national development. The Kingdom established a Ministry of Education (1953). The Government proceeded to open thousands of elementary, intermediate, and secondary schools as well as colleges, higher institutes and seven universities. All of this in a traditional society that did not even have schools others than madrasas before World War II and in whih only a hanbdful of men had even the most basic educaton. The Saudi government provides free education for all Saudi children, both boys and girls. The education of girls was a major shift from traditional practice. In addition to the Ministry of Education, the General Presidency of Girls Education plays an important role in the education system. There are 6 years of primary school and 3 years each of intermediate and high school. There is also free general and higher (post secondary) education. There are also various financial assistance programs for both male and female students. University students in addition to free tuition receive financial aid and free housing. The Government provides meals, books, and transportation at subsidized prices. Female students are provided with separate and free transportation. The educatioin of women has been an enormous success, wiping out the problem of female iliteracy that has plagued other Arab countries. Other issues remain. Despite the massive spending, there are still issues of educational quality. Islam continues to be a major part of the curriculum. And some of the teaching has included what can only be called as hate firected as non-Muslims, especially Jews. The Government has tried to eliminate the most egregious examples of hate from textbooks, but the overall impact of Saudi education is still a matter of some concern.

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Created: 8:03 PM 12/15/2009
Last updated: 8:03 PM 12/15/2009