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Special arrangements to contribute to literacy campaigns

After the promulgation of the adult education and literacy regulations in Saoudi Arabia, the General Presidency for Girls’ Education committed itself to end illiteracy and educate female adults. At the beginning of the academic year 1392/1393h. (1972-1973), it opened five literacy schools in which enrolled 1400 learners. These schools grew sustainably year after year and reached all the cities and the villages.

A special administration was established for this type of education; it is the Literacy and Female Adult Education Administration that has for tasks to prepare a plan and set its goals and human and technical needs for the struggle against illiteracy.

As a result of these efforts, the illiteracy rate amongst women decreased by the end of the academic year 1420h. (1999) to 29.15%.

The qualitative development:

In order to establish a balance between quantity and quality in the results of the literacy programs, the media and the international efforts in this field, the following was accomplished:

  1. the main sources of illiteracy were eliminated through the expansion of the basis of the public education sector in all its sections and stages and namely the primary education in order to admit all those who reached the admittance age for this stage. The drop-out phenomenon is being dealt with in the literacy centers where it is studied and adequate solutions are suggested for those learners to continue their studies
  2. a survey was undertaken of the studies, researches and field experiences that are being made inside and outside the kingdom in the field of female adult education and literacy. They were also useful for the educational circumstances and policy of the Kingdom
  3. the General Presidency for Girls’ Education participates in the occasions related to literacy such as the Arab and world literacy days in order to intensify awareness about the disadvantages of illiteracy for the individual and the community as well as to call for a good use of the services prepared by the State in this field
  4. the General Presidency for Girls’ Education participated with the International Community in the celebration of the world illiteracy day in 1990
  5. awareness is raised in the women’s milieu at the beginning of every academic year in order to urge mothers to enroll in the literacy schools and continue their studies until they graduate
  6. the curricula and decisions related to female adult education were reviewed. The General Presidency for Girls’ Education stressed the importance of the decided curricula for illiteracy schools. The curricula were developed so that they got a new three-year description. The new curriculum has objectives that are closely linked to the learners’ needs and daily concerns and rely in its implementation on the linked units program for different courses. This allows the learners to get a degree that is equivalent to the primary education certificate and to continue the following stages if they want to.

Vocational training at the General Presidency for Girls’ Education:

The efforts undertaken by the General Presidency for Girls’ Education were not limited to ending spelling illiteracy but they also included struggling against vocational illiteracy. The Presidency sought to teach the female learners, mothers and housewives the skills and expertise related to the fields of work of each one of them. For this purpose the following achievements were accomplished:

  1. training programs were set for preparing female adults to work in the public of private sectors in the fields of dress designing and sewing. The minimum educational degree for admittance in this program is the second follow-up studies degree for the age category 17 to 35 years old
  2. vocational training programs have been developed since the academic year 1412h. (1992) for post-intermediate stage in the fields of dress designing, sewing and housekeeping. The duration is of three years leading to the secondary certificate. The secondary vocational institutes are ten
  3. religious, cultural, social and educational awareness programs were developed to teach women new skills in this field in order to meet the learners’ needs on one hand and the development requirements of the society on the other hand.

Third – Efforts by the National Guards:

The National Guards in Saoudi Arabia undertakes efforts that support and complete the State efforts in spreading education, especially in the field of literacy and adult education. This is considered as a civilizational goal that all efforts seek to achieve. The National Guards set the issue of educating the employees and their children as a priority and thus consecrated to it all the necessary financial and human potentials. The national Guards became a member of the Higher Committee and the Sub-Committee for adult education and literacy in Saoudi Arabia.

The National Guards programs and efforts succeeded as it is proven by facts and figures. This was possible thanks to God’s help of course as well as to the generous support by His Highness Prince Abdallah Ben Abdel Azeez, Vice-President of the Prime Minister and Chief of the National Guards, the permanent and personal following by His Highness Prince Badr Ben Abdel Azeez Vice-President of the national Guards and the support by all the officials of the National Guards institution.

In addition to this, the main factors of success were the following:

The latest statistics issued by the National Guards (see chart number 4) reveal that big success in literacy programs.

Chart number [4]

Numbers of schools, classes and learners in National Guards literacy schools in 1998

Education stage
















Output of adult education at the National Guards:

Illiteracy rate amongst members of the national Guards decreased considerably. The output of the National Guards adult education since its official start in 1375h. (1975) until 1418h. (1997) have been as it is shown in chart number 5:

Chart number [5]

Number of graduated learners from the National Guards Adult Education programs


Primary graduated

Intermediate graduated

Secondary graduated

8975 learners

8558 learners

3723 learners

1641 learners

It is worth noting that there some of the graduated members of the National Guards night secondary schools continued their education and enrolled in the universities of the Kingdom and got baccalaureate degrees. Others also are following suit.

Efforts by the national Guards in female adult education:

The National Guards did not ignore the women’s role. Therefore, they occupied a high position in its concerns and benefited from the educational opportunities. The first school for female adult education was opened in the residential area in Ryad for the employees of the National Guards in 1412h. (1992). Then many other schools were opened successively until they reached in the 1418h. (1998(statistics) seven centers. Chart number 6 reveals the number of classes and courses.

Chart number [6]

Statistics of the female adult schools at the National Guards]


Nb of centers

Nb of classes

Nb of learners





Al Sharqyah




Al Gharbyah








General awareness efforts:

The National Guards do not limit this service to its employees but opens its schools to all the members of the society. It also plays a vital role in the field of raising awareness and guidance by participating in the celebration of the Arab literacy day and the world literacy day. Many awareness conferences and seminars are held regularly all over the academic year for adults to encourage them to enroll in the educational programs and to improve their social culture.

Administrative and organizational support to the National Guards efforts in education in general:

In 1402h. (1981), the National Guards Section for Cultural and Educational Affairs was established to provide administrative efficiency and supervises the adult education programs and the children education programs with contemporary academic field administrative vision. As soon as it was established, the section started intensive field and administrative activities to assess what has been accomplished of the goals set for education. An integrated database was set for the plannifiers to draw new plans and programs aiming at establishing an agenda to end illiteracy amongst the members of the national Guards while working on improving the quality of education and schools, developing the teachers’ and employees’ capacities through training, attracting experienced and skilled academicians for the planning, developing the educational supervision and other developing actions aiming at increasing the level of education at the National Guards so that it could meet the requirements and developments of the time.

The first step accomplished by the section to accelerate the process of ending illiteracy was a precise survey of the remaining illiterates amongst the members of the national Guards. As a result, these people were obliged to enroll in adult education schools, new schools would be opened if necessary, financial and moral incentives will be provided for them, awareness campaigns will be organized to make them enroll in education, schools will suit them psychologically, teachers and administrative staff will be trained on adult teaching means and the ways to attract them, new schools will be opened for children in order to meet the growing increase in the number of male and female students. The section also tried to put an end to the dropout phenomenon in the children’s schools.

Continuous efforts against illiteracy "children’s education":

In addition to adult education for its employees, the National Guards institution provides learning opportunities for their children as a way to eradicate illiteracy fully. It started opening schools for children in 1987; 39 schools were opened for all stages and for boys and girls. They increased progressively and reached in 1997-98 122 schools, including 58 for boys (36 primary, 13 intermediate and 9 secondary) and 64 for girls (13 kindergarten, 32 primary, 12 intermediate and 7 secondary). The total number of learners in these schools is 42211. Chart number 7 reveals the stages distribution for girls as well as for boys.

Chart number [7]

Stages distribution of National Guards schools

Education stages

Schools for boys

Schools for girls













A pilot educational experience applied by the National Guards to encourage adults to enroll in educational institutions:

In the beginning of 1999, the national Guards started implementing a new experience in the field of adult education by transferring courses in some centers to the morning period and providing full-time teachers for this task in order to encourage learners to study, to attend regularly and to seek good results. The military section at the national Guards cooperated and school attendance was considered as a part of the work schedule. The preliminary indicators provided clear data about the success of this experience because the attendance average reached 100%. As soon as the reports about this experience will be ready, the possibility of spreading it to all literacy and adult education centers at the national Guards will be studied.

Fourth – Efforts by the Ministry of Defense and Aviation and the General Inspection:

Education has occupied a priority place since the creation of the Saoudi armed forces (the army). The army leadership started adopting schools for soldiers’ culture. Then the efforts developed and reached new organizational dimensions with the establishment of the Culture and Education Administration. It was created to take care of the management and functioning of the schools for the armed forces employees (Ministry of Defense and Aviation). So the main activity of this Administration became the public education (primary, intermediate and secondary) for boys with the public education curricula adopted in the Kingdom. The Administration has other responsibilities including:

  1. sending some of its employees and school managers for training to the adult education leaderships center;
  2. issuing statistics about the number of schools, classes, learners, administrative staff, teachers and employees and sending a copy to the administrations attached to the Ministry of Education and the general Presidency for Girls’ Education;
  3. setting a budget for spending the whole academic year on schools that are this year 74 for both male and female learners and for all stages;
  4. participating in information meetings through radio, television or newspapers in order to clarify the role of this Administration in this field;
  5. issuing publications and posters covering the following:

The Ministry of Defense and Aviation is in charge of the night schools for adult education for both genders including literacy schools and night intermediate and secondary schools. These schools are in regions where the employees of the ministry of Defense and Aviation and the General Inspection live with their families. Their architecture respected the sociogeographic aspect of the country. They apply the unified curricula that are prepared by the Ministry of Education for boys' education and the General Presidency for Girls’ Education, in addition to providing English courses in the primary stage in some schools.

We notice an increase in the number of illiteracy schools in the beginning then a decrease until it reached 24 for adults including 1454 students. This represents a strong indicator of illiteracy withdrawal. The night intermediate and secondary schools increased and reached in 1417-1418h. (1997-98) 57 schools with 10830 students.

This Administration participates with the educational institutions in the world literacy day and the Arab literacy day. As an incentive for the military to continuous education, no promotion is decided unless there is a suitable degree of education. This arrangement led many of them to continue their education.

Women get much attention in this field through the children’s schools attached to the Ministry of defense and Aviation. The number of learners at the Ministry of Culture and Higher Education decreased and reached in 1416-1417h. (1997) 649 male students and 850 female students in 13 schools and 11 schools respectively.

International appreciation of the special efforts:

The efforts undertaken by the Ministry of Defense and Aviation in the field of literacy and adult education were crowned by the UNESCO award bearing the name of the Korean king Sijung and created in 1979. The justifications of the jury included the following:

  1. the Administration opened intermediate and secondary night schools as a stage following the literacy stage;
  2. it has numerous and efficient contributions to the struggle against illiteracy in the fixed occasions;
  3. it allowed more than 16959 male and female students to study in its schools in all stages. The number of graduates increased in 1417h. (1997) to 18970 from all 81 night schools.

The award was delivered in a ceremony held by UNESCO in Paris on the 21/10/1996.

Fifth – Efforts by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs:

Social development aims essentially at solving the social problems and improving the people’s living standards and preparing honourable life components through programs aiming at achieving adult education in its global sense by providing them with varied life skills with adult education and continuous education philosophy. In order to achieve this objective, the State chose the social development style to deal with the local communities because they are the main pillars of the development process. It started an experimental development project with the opening of the first social center for social development at Derhyah in 1380h. (1960) with the collaboration of the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture. It set for the project the following objectives:

The experience having succeeded, the project was expanded by the creation of centers in all the regions. These centers reached 27 including 20 for social development in the rural areas, 5 are being built and two others for social services in the urban areas.

Local social development committees:

This is one of the means chosen by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs as an attempt to expand the social development programs to cover as many regions as possible namely those that receive no service from the social centers and are in strong need of it.

The main characteristics of these committees are: easy constitution, simple costs, a positive role in meeting the needs of the society through renewed programs that are easy to implement and cost-effective for many social categories.

The number of local social development committees established until the end of 1416-17h. (1995-96) reached 80 including 22 main committees functioning in the development and service centers zone and 58 functioning in the regions that the services of those centers do not reach. These committees also have sub-committees.

Social development programs and projects:

Within the general objectives determined in the State general plan, the social centers along with the non governmental committees prepare an annual plan for specific goals in the local society in all health, cultural, social and economic aspects of life.

The necessary government assistance is provided for the implementation of these projects. The most important programs and projects implemented in the regions served by the social centers and committees are:

  1. Childhood and maternity care programs:
    1. Kindergarten:
    2. It is for 3 to 5 year old children and aims at providing good education for children with moral, physical, educational, social, health and culture care conditions, under the supervision of social workers, qualified educators.

    3. Maternity care programs:

They provide educational and cultural programs for women as well as awareness about their role in the revival of the society through specialized and varied training sessions in dress designing, sewing, housekeeping, family budgeting, house decoration, flower arrangements, typing, computer, English language, in addition to Koran learning, literacy courses, conferences, seminars and publications that participate in improving women’s culture and awareness.

  1. Strengthening environmental industries:

This program aims at:

    1. establishing private production training workshops for simple industries. The workshop receives a share of the budget to which the Ministry contributes by 50% of the operational costs in order to support these activities and preserve heritage and craftsmanship;
    2. establishing women’s workshops (productive households) in order to help the female graduates of the training sessions in dress designing and sewing improve their revenue and benefit from their free time.

In addition to these programs, there are important life programs like the social program, the youth care program, the cultural programs and the health programs. These programs stress the importance of agriculture because agriculture is a main source of revenue in the rural areas.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs participate in the summer literacy campaigns organized by the Ministry of Education in the remote areas during which it provides awareness, advisory and social services.

Charitable institutions and associations:

The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is in charge of the organization of the non-governmental endeavours and the charitable actions. In 1384h. (1965), the "regulations of non governmental charitable associations and institutions" was promulgated.

The main instructions were also adopted in this field; they concern the following: the establishment of the associations, their official registration, and material and moral assistance to them, technical support for them. In the country there are so many associations with such noble and varied objectives.

The services provided by these associations developed from financial assistance to direct and indirect services that help individuals rely on themselves by developing their skills with educational programs. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs encourages citizens to establish even more charitable associations in all the regions and provides financial, technical and administrative assistance in order to invest the citizens’ charitable spirit and to achieve the social solidarity that is promoted by Islam.

The charitable associations have accomplished a big and successful step in pushing forward the social work in the country by participating in the efforts undertaken by the Government in he different fields of care and development. They were 58 in 1417h. (1996).

The number of beneficiaries is growing in the multiple fields of activities especially the following fields revealed by the statistics of the year 1417h. (1996) in chart number 8.

Chart number [8]

Number of beneficiaries of the charitable institutions and associations actions in 1997


Nb of beneficiaries

Childhood care


Education and training


Disabled care


General culture


Social training and research center

The efforts undertaken by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs are also revealed in the activities of the social training and research center that was established in 1390h. (1970) with the collaboration of the UNDP. The main objectives of the center are:

Sixth – Adult education and Literacy, a pilot experience inside the reform institutions:

Saoudi Arabia, through the Ministry of the Interior, takes care of the prisoners in order to make of the prison places for reforming and rehabilitating prisoners for life and social integration. This requires intensified educational and guidance efforts as well as new skills for a better life.

Therefore, prisons provide adult education and literacy programs and opportunities for continuing education inside. One of the main examples of this interest, the generous action by His Majesty consisting on exempting the prisoner who succeeds during his time in learning the Koran or parts of it by heart of half or some of the sanction. This led to an improvement in some prisoners’ behaviour.

The charitable associations for Koran learning organize many Koran sessions in prison every year. This also concerns women prisons as well.

Seventh – The Koran learning charitable associations:

If children and adults are taught the Koran, it is to serve noble educational goals. Saoudi Arabia is much interested in teaching the Koran because it is a particular aspect of which it is proud. In addition to the State efforts in this field, charitable associations for learning the Koran were established under the regulations and rules of procedure of the charitable associations in Saoudi Arabia. Their main objective is teaching the Koran: reading and knowing by heart as well as other related educational objectives.

They are 13 spread in all the regions. Every association bears the name of the region in which it is established. it also has to establish branches in the districts and centers related to it. They have a higher council that set the general policy, establishes the necessary plans and methodologies and follows their implementation. Their role is not limited to teaching the Koran, they contribute directly to teaching basic reading and writing skills to their employees (children or adults) as a contribution to the literacy efforts undertaken by all the social institutions.

Eighth – Following literacy in the Bedouins places:

The State policy aims at providing educational opportunities to all citizens in the Kingdom wherever they live, whatever they do and of whatever age they are. The Bedouins have got a good share of the State’s concerns represented by many higher decisions since 1959. High committees have been constituted to study the general situation of the desert and submit reports and recommendations to the Prime Minister Office where they are transferred to the competent ministers.

Article six of the adult education regulations stipulates the "organization of selection campaigns concentrated on the places where it is not easy to prepare regular courses like the Bedouin regions and the remote areas and for the necessary period for ending illiteracy."

For this purpose, the campaigns objectives were set as follows:

  1. ending illiteracy amongst a bug number of citizens and in the shortest time possible;
  2. providing cultural, social, health and agricultural services to the citizens who cannot benefit from the fixed services provided by the State because they are never in a fixed place and live far away from the places where these services are available;
  3. raising Bedouins’ awareness and working on teaching them skills and sound behavioural actions;
  4. contributing to the success of the settlement projects accomplished by the State in order to achieve stability and guarantee a better life for the Bedouins.

Within the framework of these policies, the Ministry of Education accomplished the first literacy experience in 1967-1968 in Khaouaa’ site of the Jaouf region. It took three months and targeted the Bedouins in the places around water where they gather in summer because of the lack of rain and grass.

In order to guarantee the success of this experience, the Ministry of Education benefited from the help of the ministry of Health that designated a doctor to take care of the health-related aspects as well as the treatment and prevention. The Ministry of Social Affairs designated a social supervisor for the social aspects and the improvement of the citizens’ situation in this field. The Ministry of Education was charged of the educational, cultural and religious awareness aspects. The efforts of this campaign succeeded by raising awareness and creating the feeling that the State is concerned by their situation. This campaign also contributed to the idea of settling Bedouins in simple houses around wells and water.

When the Ministry of Education sensed the medical results of this campaign, it transformed it into a fixed literacy program that is implemented each year in the rural areas. It was extended to involve the Ministry of Agriculture and Water, the Ministry of Information, the General Presidency for Complaints. Reading, writing and sum books were conceived.

Ninth – Sustainable development for adults:

The sustainable development for adults in both its educational and vocational aspects is considered as a very important factor of the educational system. The general institution for technical educational and vocational training implements the policies related to technical education and vocational training because it is convinced of the fact that human potential is the most important wealth in the society and that education is a productive process that develops the human potentials and is the main factor of the success of human planning. Therefore, the Institution implements with the following conditions;

The technical education instruments attached to the institution contribute to the achievement of these objectives by training qualified technical labour force through the attached secondary institutes in the cities and the regions of the Kingdom.

Vocational training:

Vocational training is the second aspect of the activities of the institution thanks to its successive achievements and to its contribution; it trains a technical labour force that can be a vital substitute to scientific and wide theoretical knowledge.

Therefore, one of the main objectives of vocational training is to prepare and train the national labour force in order to meet the State’s needs in all sectors and to respond to the requirements of the national local market. This training also allows the national labour force to full benefit from the development means and the high technology reached by the developed industrial countries.

Tenth – Literacy-related studies:

In the struggle against illiteracy, the State concentrates efforts on research. The most important studies in this field are:

  1. Night schools drop-outs study:
  2. The educational institutions study the dropout in night schools. The Ministry of Education studied this phenomenon in order to stop it and to try to end illiteracy in a very short period of time. The study aimed at determining the volume of the phenomenon, the reasons of the drop-out and consequently setting solutions and proposals for stopping this phenomenon especially that the State is spending so much on that category of students.

  3. Phenomenon of night learners of little age:
  4. This field study aims at determining the volume of that phenomenon and the reasons of it in order to suggest solutions. This study is still being analyzed.

  5. Education in the desert:

A research team was constitutes in order to verify whether all the desert population’ children have enrolled in schools. This is an important study because it is unprecedented and is expected to add new elements. It is still being analyzed.

Exceptional social participation in the educational efforts:

The non-governmental education has got more and more support through the years because it is considered as an important extension to the governmental public education. In fact, chapter six of part five of the educational policy document was consecrated fully to this subject. This chapter stipulates the following;

  1. to guarantee a suitable level of education, teaching and health conditions, just equal to that of the State schools;
  2. to assess the assistance to be given to the school to let it achieve justice and balance in all non governmental schools;
  3. to help non-governmental schools and institutes achieving the educational goals in terms of supervision and technical support.

In order to let the non governmental education in the kingdom accomplish its role perfectly, the State offers many facilities and advantages including:

Information contribution to EFA:

Educational information in Saoudi Arabia aims at benefiting from the mass media in order to achieve education goals in the light of both educational and information policies in the Kingdom. The Ministry of Education established a General Directorate for Educational Information in 1418h, which was a successful step for educational information towards creating a framework for this purpose. The educational information system serves the educational and teaching objectives through targeted programs that are set up by a group of education and information experts and interested people.

The educational information is ruled in Saoudi Arabia by an administrative system with high prerogatives and wide power. At its head, there is the higher council for information that sets information policies and supervises their implementation and development.

The Educational Information Committee at the Ministry of Education sets the bases for the educational information start. It includes a representative of the ministry of Education, another one from the Ministry of Information as well as representatives of other ministries and institutions concerned by this subject.

The educational information strategy was set as a methodology for information work. Its programs and activities were determined. This strategy started from the same bases of the educational and information policies including:

The role of information in supporting the educational effort:

The Ministry of Information offered all the necessary support for activating the role of the educational information through radio and TV programs or through efforts and activities undertaken by the Saoudi News Agency.

A coordinating committee was constituted by the ministry of Information and the Ministry of Education to discuss the scientific and practical bases of the educational programs and to set productive plans for the educational information programs.

The main programs suggested by the Ministry of Education are:

  1. The methodological programs (on TV):
  2. The objective is to cover and explain some of the courses needed by the students.

  3. With the Students or The Flowers of my Country (TV):
  4. It tackles the students’ social, educational and psychological problems and suggests solutions to them. It also displays the students’ main activities and contributions and reveals the most brilliant and creative amongst them, which is one of the most important recommendations of the educational information (it is being implemented).

  5. Light and Hope:

It is concerned by special education, the mental, physical, hearing and visual disabled affairs (a fixed weekly program). The educational information at the Ministry of Education supervises these programs with the collaboration of the concerned sectors at the Ministry. They are weekly programs. The existing mass TV and radio programs are also used for the educational purpose.

There are other programs being prepared and produced such as behavioural programs.

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