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Saoudi Arabia tries, through its plans and programs to make of Education For All a realistic practical dimension for its education policy in its general guidelines. The State policies in this field are based on a stable ideological belief that establishes education as an obligation for every individual. The ambitions of Saoudi Arabia in this field are compatible with its specificities and the characteristics of its society. In faact, its land witnessed the appearance of the Islam light that urged people to learn. The best example of this is the following words of the Coran: "Read in the name of Your God who created, He created the human beings, read and God will be generous with you, He who taught how to write, taught the human beings what they had not known."

Saoudi Arabia is always aware of the fact that education is the most efficient means for building the future of the nation, achieving modernism and evolution as well as global development for individuals and society and the ideal way for meeting the requirements of the scientific and technical developments and reacting with them for a prosperous life.

Within this framework, Saoudi Arabia is setting up efficient plans and programs in order to achieve the goal it has set for itself: education for all. Efforts in this field are not limited to a certain period of time, they should be intensified, continuous and updated regularly as one of the principles of the State and an assertion of its will since His Majesty King Abdel Azeez Ben Abdel Rahman Aal Saoud – God Bless his soul – established this great entity.

Figures are sometimes best revealing of this concern. Before the establishment of the Kingdom of Saoudi Arabia, there were a few schools and in a short period of time, schools have grown and the number of pupils –males and females- exceeds today four million.

Schools and institutes spread in all the Kingdom territories and the State spent billions of ryals for providing education for all. With the spirit of the Jumtien conference (1410 H. 1990 AD) that called for a program of action for education for all, the Kingdom witnessed joint efforts undertook by all the education institutions and the Non Governmental Organizations in order to achieve an ambitious transformation in education.

I have no intention to assess the efforts undertaken in the field of education for all because all the necessary information will be provided in the present report that I am introducing to you with great pleasure. However, it is my duty to pay tribute to the Vice-Prime minister His Highness Prince Abdallah Ben Abdel Azeez, the Chief of the National Guard, the second Vice-Prime Minister His Highness Prince Sultan Ben Abdel Azeez, the Minister of Defense and Aviation and the General Inspector who spare no effort in providing education, improving its quality and increasing its efficiency. It is important for us to prove that efficient cooperation amongst the State institutions working in the education field or having a related activity has achieved this goal that we are happy to have it summarized in this report. I also extend my gratitude to all those who contributed to this report especially Dr. Khaled Ben Ibraheem Al Aouad Head of the Education Development Center as well as Dr. Ali Ben Sadeek Al Hakmi Director General of the Measurement and Assessment Department and coordinator of the National Assessment team for the efforts they undertook in preparing this report.

Minister of Education: Mohammed Ben Ahmad Al Rasheed


This report is a part of the process of Education For All activities (assessment of the year 2000) upon a recommendation by the world conference held in Jumtien – Thailand on March 5-9 1990. The assessment of the year 2000 includes public and private curricula as well as activities and services provided in both formal and out-of-school education in order to meet the needs for basic education for children, youngsters and adults. The assessment stresses the importance of the main changes that have occurred in EFO in all the countries since 1990.

A national team was constituted in Saoudi Arabia and was charged of the preparation of the report. The report was prepared as follows::

First – The following national team was constituted to collect and prepare the data related to the report and to undertake the related statistical analyses:

1- D. Ali Ben Sadeek Al Hakmi - Director General of Measurement and Assessment Department – as a coordinator

2- Mr. Fahed Ben Abdel Rahman Al Mohayzeh – Manager of the Measurement Department – Ministry of Education – as a member

3- Mr. Ibraheem Ben Hamad Aal Sheikh – Planning Department – General Presidency for girls’ education – as a member

4- Mr. Fehed Ben Mohammad Al Yahya – Planning Department - General Presidency for girls’ education – as a member

5- Mr. Abdel Rahman Ben Abdel Azeem Khojah – Social Statistics Department – Ministry of Planning – as a member

6- Mr. Abdel Rahman Ben Abdallah Al Ghanam – Research Department – Ministry of Education – as a member

7- Mr. Omar Ben Mohammad Bou Saaid – Adult Education - Ministry of Education – as a member

8- Mr. Aaidha Ben Awad Al Zahrani – Computer Department - Ministry of Education – as a member

9- Mr. Issa Ben Ghazi Al Otaibi – Measurement and Assessment Department - Ministry of Education – as a member

10- Dr. Fouad Ahmad Hilmi – Educational Planning Department - Ministry of Education – as a member

11- Mr. Ismail Rashed Abdel Hakeem – Education Development Center- Ministry of Education – as a member

12- Mr. Mohammed Salah Al Hennaoui – Research Department - Ministry of Education – as a member

Second- A sub-committee was constituted in the national team to undertake statistical analyses and write the final report. The members of this sub-committee are:

  1. Doctor / Ali Ben Sadeek Al Hakmi
  2. Mr. Fahed Ben Abdel Rahman Al Mohayzeh
  3. Mr. Fouad Ahmad Hilmi
  4. Mr. Ismail Rashed Abdel Hakeem

It is with great pleasure that I extend my gratitude to the coordinator of the team Dr. Ali Ben Sadeek Al Hakmi and to the members of the National Team for the efforts they undertook continuously for this report. I would also like to mention that this report was the result of an efficient participation by all the relevant governmental sectors that provided the team with the necessary information for the preparation of the report:

  1. General Presidency for Girls’ Education
  2. General Statistics Department in the Ministry of Planning
  3. Directorate General for Culture and Education at the Ministry of Defense
  4. Directorate General of Culture and Education at the National Guards Section
  5. Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs
  6. Ministry of Islamic Affairs
  7. General Institution for Technical Education and Vocational Training

And I would like to thank namely Dr. Ibraheem Ben Abdel Azeez al Shadi Minister of Cultural Affairs, Mr. Mohammed Ben Rasheed Al Sulaimi Assistant Secretary General of the National Committee for Education, Culture and Science at the Ministry of Education, Dr. Khaled Ben Abdallah Douhaich Assistant Minister for Planning and Administrative Development at the General Presidency for Girls’ Education and Dr. Mohammed Ben Rashed Al Othman Assistant Minister for Educational Development at the General Presidency for Girls’ Education. We are also grateful to Mr. Abdallah Ben Sulaiman Al Otheim Director General of Statistics Department at the Ministry of Planning, Mr. Abdallah Ben Mohammed Al Batel and Mr. Abdel Azeez Al Bader from the same Department as well as the Director General of the Data and Computer Center at the Ministry of Education Dr. Abdel Azeez Ben Mohammed Al Mansour, the Director General of the educational research department of the Educational Development Center at the Ministry of Education Dr. Saoud Ben Dhahyan Al Dhahyan, the Director General of the Educational Planning Department of the Educational Development Center at the Ministry of Education Mr. Saad Ben Mohammed Al Saiid and the Director General of the Curricula Department of the same center Dr. Mohammed Ben Moogeb Al Haamed who helped a lot by providing the necessary information for the report.

I would like to pay tribute to the contributions made by Mr. Yussef Ben Mohammed Al Qabalan Director General of the Administrative development and Public Relations Department at the Ministry of Education, Mr. Nasser Ben Al Al Musa Supervisor of Education at the Ministry of Education, Mr. Nasser Al Abd Al Wahhab Director General of the Budget Department and Mr. Mohammed Ben Suleiman Al Mhanna Secretary General of Adult Education Department at the Ministry of Education.

Many of the female employees of the General Presidency played an important role in providing data related to the report namely Mrs. Najat Al Rouished, Mrs. Iman Mohammed Al Said and Mrs. Manal Abdel Rahman Al Moghdeb at the Statistics Department at the Ministry of Planning and Administrative Development.

I also thank all the male employees of the General Directorate of Measurement and Assessment for their help in this project: Mr. Omar Ben Abdallah Al Shathry, Mr. Saleh Ben Obeid Al Qooud, Mr. Mohammed Ben Majri Al Subai’i and Mr. Nasser Al Hamdan.

And I wish to all success and perseverance.

Dr. Khaled Ben Ibraheem Al Awad

Head of the education Development Department at the Ministry of Education

First part

General aspects of education in SA

* Education flow chart

* Elaboration and implementation of the education decision

* Educational Policies

* Education in development plans

Flow chart

Saoudi Arabia provides educational services through a flow chart that allows passing from one stage to another in a natural graduation corresponding to the students’ physical and psychological characteristics in their different growing stages. The document about the "Educational policy in Saoudi Arabia" has determined the education stages and the objectives of every one of these stages, the duration of each, the categories that can be submitted to it and the nature of study in it (see Addendum number 1).

Public education in Saoudi Arabia is composed of three stages that constitute the flow chart in addition to the kindergarten stage that concerns four or five-year-old children and is not included in the public education flow chart. It is not a precondition for entering the first primary grade. Thanks to the encouragement and technical and financial assistance offered by the State, some institutions and NGOs have opened many nurseries and kindergartens for two to five-year-old children.

First stage: primary education

The public education flow chart starts with the primary education stage that represents the basis of the education pyramid. It covers six years starting from six-year-old children and can accept a three-month margin for new entrants if they are not yet six years old and especially if they have made preliminary education. All schools are day schools in this stage. In this stage we notice the interest given to the religious education and to Arabic in addition to general culture and science. The pupil who succeeds at the end of the six-year period gets a "primary education certificate" that allows him or her to continue in the intermediate stage.

Intermediate stage

In the flow chart , the pupils having succeeded in the primary stage pass to the intermediate stage usually at twelve and for three years.

The intermediate stage provides more opportunities for the pupils to belong more to his or her culture of origin. It also provides more opportunities for developing pupils’ capacities in order for them to choose the orientation for the next stages.

Those who, for age or social or work reasons, cannot go to day intermediate schools have the possibility to take night courses. Exams can also be passed in an irregular way (at home).

Secondary stage

The flow chart ends with the secondary stage that is at the summit of the public education chart. It concerns 15-year-old pupils who have finished successfully the intermediate stage. It covers three years and provides more specialized studies and more general culture as well as a preparation for entering universities.

In the secondary stage, courses are varied in accordance with the pupils’ psychological and mental maturity. In addition to the two sections adopted for the last two years (scientific and literature) for females (legal and Arab sciences, management and social sciences, natural sciences, technical sciences) and males, there are secondary institutes attached to the Imam Mohammed ben Saoud Islamic University as well as secondary Koranic schools, Dar Attawheed school that insists mainly on religious courses. There are some kinds of secondary institutes for training female teachers (they increased in number during the last decade) as well as technical secondary schools attached to the Public Education Institution and Vocational Training for training competent workers in all spercializations including: "secondary industrial institutes", "secondary commercial institutes, "agricultural institutes", "secondary postal institutes", technical supervisors institute" and "health institutes".

Those who, for age or social or work reasons, cannot go to day intermediate schools have the possibility to take night courses. Exams can also be passed in an irregular way (at home).

Technical Education

Saoudi Arabia has given special interest to the technical education since very long. The Education policy document contains (in part five chapter three) a clarification of the objectives and goals of the technical education and vocational training, the responsibilities of which are of the prerogatives of the Ministry of Education until 1400 h. (1980A.D.). In fact, a decision was taken to establish the Public Education Institution for Technical Education and Vocational training in order to develop the required competence of the trained and qualified national labor force because it is considered as the nerve of production in the fields of industry, agriculture and commerce, etc. Technical education has witnessed increasing popularity and sustainable growth during the last years in term of numbers of students, semesters and teachers. Many technical faculties were also established. The technical education institutions do not forget to provide Islamic culture, Arabic language and social issues courses in order to train them on everything and to improve their cultural level in addition to their vocational training.

Adult Education and Literacy

The educational system in the kingdom applies the principle of providing opportunities at any time. Therefore, a special education system was established for providing education at any age. Within this framework, the following institutions were established:

  1. literacy centers that admit students with no age limit. The duration of studies in these centers is of three years, the first grade in adult education equaling the second grade in primary education, the second grade in adult education equaling the fourth grade of primary education, the third grade in adult education equaling the sixth grade in primary education.
  2. In order to struggle against illiteracy and ignorance, the education bodies organize summer literacy campaigns in the areas that are far away from the schools agglomerations as well as selection campaigns in this purpose.

  3. night courses (for males) and day courses (for females) providing the opportunity to pass the final exam for intermediate stage or secondary stage just like the students of the formal schools.

The efforts undertaken in literacy campaigns in Saoudi Arabia have succeeded during the last years in this important field. We will develop this in another part of this report.

Elaboration and implementation of the education decision

The Higher committee of education policy is considered as the highest supervising authority of all kinds of education except for the university education. The committee was established in 1383 h. and is chaired by the Prime Minister. It includes:

  1. the Minister of Education – vice-president
  2. the Minister of Higher education
  3. the minister of Civil Service
  4. the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs
  5. the Minister of Information
  6. the Minister of Pilgrimage (Hajj)
  7. the General President for Girls’ Education

It decides of all the educational plans and methodologies and all the relevant lists and other achievements. Its decisions are effective. One of the first and most important achievements of the committee, the Educational Policy Document that is considered as the main reference for education and its programs of all types and branches. The committee has taken many decisions since its creation about plans for all education stages, curricula, assessment lists and exams. A High Council for Higher education was established recently. The work of the committee being limited to the non-university education.

Education in Saoudi Arabia is controlled by four main sectors:

The Ministry of education, the general Presidency for Girls’ Education, the Ministry of Higher education and the Public Institution for Technical Education and Vocational Training. There are other governmental bodies providing education for their employees and their children such as the Ministry of Defense and Aviation, the National Guards Presidency and the Ministry of the Interior that are committed to the chart flow, to the plans for courses and to the decisions applied in the schools attached to the Ministry of Education "for males" and the schools attached to the General Presidency for Girls’Education "for females" in the kindergarten, primary, intermediate and adult education stages.

The Ministry of Education –previously directorate of Education- was established in 1373 h. (1954 AD). This ministry is proud to have had the King Fahed Ben Abdel Azeez as a first minister, he who gave much of his efforts and time to build the first educational institution of the Kingdom.

The Minister has the following stages and types of education for boys;

It also supervises the private education sector for boys (this sector being established and financed by the private sector and sometimes supported financially by the State)

It was established in 1380h. (1960 AD) as a body responsible of setting up plans drawing the methodology that will be followed by education in the girls’ schools. It was a manifestation of a response to the ambitions of the society in finding a formal education system for girls in Saoudi Arabia, allowing them to obtain sciences, knowledge and skills in order for the to become active members of the society. This was somehow a changing point that paved the way for a quick development and a successive growth for girls’education.

The General Presidency for Girls’ Education controls nowadays all the following types and stages of education for girls:

It also supervises private education for girls.

In 1400h. (1980 AD), all the training centers and institutes attached to the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs as well as the technical institutes of the Ministry of Education were merged in one institution "the general institution for technical education and vocational training" in order to develop technical education and vocational training, to implement the plans and programs set for developing the national and professional forces within the framework of the policies set by the Labour Force Council in all matters related to technical education in all its fields such as industry, agriculture and commerce and to vocational training.

It was established in 1395h. (1975 AD) to supervise the implementation of the Saoudi Arabian policy in the field of higher education that had been of the responsibility of the Ministry of Education before. The following universities are controlled now by the Ministry of Higher education:

These two bodies have undertaken special efforts in participating in the educational effort. They provide assistance in providing educational service to pupils in the attached compounds through huge potentials that are mobilized to provide education, to push the educational process forward, to implement general policies and unified curricula for the public education pre-university stages.

It provides some types of early education and supervises the social development centers that provide literacy programs.

Educational Policies: Education for All as a priority

The educational policy aims at making education plans and programs accessible to all the members of the society and at preparing them for participating in building their society and achieving their ambitions. "Education For All" is an essential aim for the Kingdom that was a pioneer in this field, the educational policy of 1390h. (1970) having included clear principles and guidelines in this field. Its texts included the following:

As a step towards implementing the contents of the educational policy, the development plans that were simultaneously launched along with this policy, clarified the policies and programs based on ambitious strategies in order to achieve the principle of "EFA". We mention here the contents of the fifth and sixth development plans.

Education in development plans: putting policies into practice

The education plans in Saoudi Arabia consider the human element as the producer and the beneficiary of development and on it relies the development product in all its fields. Therefore, providing education for all the people of the nation, a sufficient quality education is the best warrant of successful education.

Saudi Arabia accomplished in the period that followed the world conference on EFA (Jumtien, Thailand, March 1990) a development plan (the fifth plan) and the sixth development is nearly finished. During the period of these two plans, the efforts were intensified in order to achieve EFA. In a swift look at the two plans (1410 – 1415h.) (1990-1995), we see clearly this in their objectives and programs:

The material and social objectives of education are based on Islamic principles and values as well as on the cultural heritage of the Saoudi Arab society and constitute the essential axis of the log-term development goals.

In application of this, the development plans insisted on consecrating these values in the citizens’ minds and providing knowledge and skills that make of them productive citizens capable of efficient participation in all social, economic and cultural activities. The fifth development plan came to assert in its two strategic objectives (the third and the fourth) on the following:

The State provides education opportunities for girls and boys and aims in this plan at ameliorating the educational system that is considered as continuous operation for the educational institutions in the Kingdom. Therefore, the main objectives of the fifth development plan are the following:

The sixth development plan 1414 – 1420h. (1995 – 2000) stressed the importance of increasing education sufficiency and improving its quality as follows:

The fifth development plan has started from a solid basis already established by the fourth development plan. The education system in Saoudi Arabia did not stop growing in quantity and in quality during the implementation of the fourth plan as an extension of the education process of the last two decades. All the education indicators have reached high growth rate by providing free education opportunities for everybody and offering education services to everybody in all villages and remote areas. The enrolment ratio in the public education system grew in the last two decades (1405 – 1410h.) (1980 – 1990) by more than fourfold and the number of enrolled exceeded two million male and female students. The higher education institutions witnessed an increase in the enrollment ration by more than 16 times during the four development plans, the number of enrolled male and female students reached 114000 in comparison with 7000 at the beginning of the first development plan. The number of girls enrolled in these institutions also grew from 400 to more than 48000 in the same period (this was the case at the beginning of the fifth development plan 1990).

The fifth and sixth development plans included a number of policies aiming at achieving the public education objectives in the light of results of the assessment of the educational situation at the beginning of the fifth and sixth plans. This assessment revealed the need for policies determined as follows:

The public education policies in the fifth plan:

the reduction of the repetition and drop-out ratio by:

Improving the quality of education by:

Educational policies in the sixth plan:

The sixth development plan included many policies aiming at achieving the general objectives of the public education system. Most of these policies are based on the main axes of the sixth development plan that is strategic for long-term development and that is represented by the following:

These policies were determined in the light of the results of the statu quo data as well as the contents of the objectives and strategic bases of the sixth development plan.

The public education policies are some of these policies and they work on improving internal efficiency by:

For this purpose the following is done:

This can be done by:

This can be done by:

The fifth and sixth development plans have given great interest to a number of EFA essential issues that are considered as an efficient approach to developing education and increasing its sufficiency:

This stage is a preparatory stage for good early education for children so that they can accept their role in school life on a sound basis by maintaining their capacities, teaching them good behaviour, adapting them to school atmosphere and taking them away from the central education milieu (mothers) to the social life (school). Many education studies have proven the close relation between the pupil’s grade level in the first grade of primary education and the number of years he or she spends in nursery and kindergarten.

Preprimary education programs continued to expand and the private sector was encouraged to the same on the basis of the guidelines of the educational policy in Saoudi Arabia that stipulates in its articles 62 to 71 the following:

The objectives of nurseries and kindergartens were also determined:

The previous objectives stress on meeting the children’s need to acquire new information and new moving skills and on preparing the educational climate that helps children achieve complete growth.

In application of what was stipulated in the educational policy:

Efforts were mobilized in order to set a development project for the kindergarten stage with the collaboration of the General Presidency for Girls’ Education and the Arab Gulf Program for Supporting the United Nations Development Organizations and the UNESCO. This aimed at developing integrated global education programs for the kindergarten stage (3 – 6 years old) by:

  1. developing the kindergarten curricula and supporting all the educational assorted services;
  2. training some managers from the educational monitoring offices in some regions of Saoudi Arabia to be capable of accomplishing training and monitoring tasks;
  3. furnishing, preparing and equipping model training centers for training female employees of kindergartens;
  4. organizing in-service training sessions for kindergarten teachers in order to improve their performance and to build their capacities in educating children;
  5. linking the kindergarten specialization curriculum that is provided in the intermediate faculties to the advanced kindergarten curriculum;
  6. consolidating the information programs targeted to children, parents and the kindergarten staff in order to support the other educational activities;
  7. preparing a two-month training program based on the advanced curriculum that will constitute a basis for female employees and train mainly all the education samples working in the kindergarten. The advanced curriculum for this stage was implemented in 1414h.

As a continuation of the efforts undertaken by the concerned parties on developing the school curricula, efforts were also undertaken in order to review the school curricula and the content of the theoretical materials in many of the teaching methods and to use the modern methods stressing on understanding, assimilating, thinking, searching, deducing and solving problems (as it will be developed later).

In the fifth and sixth development plans, the State provided educational services to citizens while encouraging more and more the private sector to raise its contribution to educational services in general education, technical education, training in all its kinds or higher education. The private sector participated indeed in opening private schools (1100) for boys and girls that represented 6 – 7 % of the total number of pupils enrolled. The State has assisted these schools materially and in nature. The material assistance was evaluated by 432 million ryals during the fifth development plan. The State also built 400 schools with direct funding by the private sector (6 billion ryals). The State rented these schools on an annual basis for 10 years after which ownership goes to the State. In application of these policies, the sixth development plan offered the following opportunities to increase the contribution of the private sector:

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