|The EFA 2000 Assessment: Country Reports|
Education For All Future Prospects In Saoudi Arabia
In the light of the educational situation presented in the first part of the current report, and on the basis of the statistical indicators and the challenges as well as quick changes in education, Education for all in Saudi Arabia seems to have a better future.
However, the nature of these challenges leads us to say that the established mechanisms to face them are based upon the evaluation of the efforts made in this field.
The most important challenges that constitute a threat for developments in the future are the following:
The quantitative development and the capacity of the educational basis:
If we look at the indicators of quantitative expansion and accordingly to the increase in the number of students, we notice that this requires the expansion and the growth of the occupancy rate in schools as well as a level of education that realizes the desirable educational objectives. This problematic requires serious efforts to provide a good quality of education to all students equally. The annual demographic growth in Saudi Arabia is considered as a strategic demand for a global development that occurred in terms of socio-economic needs, changes in the infrastructure, introduction of new technologies, the growth of the public and the private sector; this is why national skills are needed. Since then, the role of the educational institutions in Saudi Arabia was and is still a challenge that requires a review and a deep planning for growth which would allow the educational institution to expand the educational basis, by providing a well developed education that meets the needs of individuals and the society in accordance with the objectives of global development. For this reason, intensive plans have been set up to realize the following:
-A balance between the growth rates of educated people and the educational basis as well as its capacities through the establishment of a school map that takes into account horizontal expansion and demographic growth between cities and villages, while giving education opportunities for all.
-To diversify education patterns especially in secondary education to reduce costs waste resulting from the increase in repetition and drop-outs rates which require to rebuild the capacities and educate students.
-To diversify the funding sources of education so as to meet the expected increase of educational costs and thus to guarantee a high quality of education and training.
-To prepare graduates according to the needs of the labor market.
-To ensure a good quality of education.
-To provide all requirements in terms of teachers, school buildings, equipment.
Authenticity and contemporaneity:
The educational system in Saudi Arabia is based upon the general trends of the educational policy that aims at preparing graduates who have a national Arab and Islamic identity open to other cultures and interacting with them with impartiality. The flow of cultures that invade the world due to the spread of telecommunications and accordingly to the expansion of cultural exchange throughout the world requires a quantitative change to reach the following:
-To allow various and diversified practices and skills as well as experiences within the classrooms.
-To consecrate the strategy of education for education, and to establish curricula in this regard.
-To create a balance between authenticity and contemporaneity, to exploit the flow of cultures, and to enhance knowledge, values and trends according to Islamic educational and intellectual basis.
-To transform the school which is a social institution, into an institution that interacts with the society with openness in order to meet the needs of individuals on the one hand, and to satisfy the social and economic needs of the society on the other hand.
To create a balance between centralization and decentralization to ensure the consolidation of general intellectual and educational frameworks, and to give autonomy to schools for more creativity and innovation.
Technology: between targeting and exploitation
The technological qualitative changes during the last quarter of the current century caused a quantum leap in the various fields and sectors. Thus, we cannot expect what would happen in the future when the technology will be used in order to develop the technology itself, since the changes will be faster than we might imagine. During the next decade, there will be a big boom in more complicated technologies, since the computer, the internet and satellites introduced new concepts that transformed figures, information and images into a wholly integrated information system that made human resolutions deeper, and more accurate and mature.
This is why we are going to witness a great change to which the educational institutions should prepare themselves and therefore to move towards two important trends:
In order to face the challenges, a plan with clear objectives and policies to be implemented in the next period has been set up, and it will be translated into ambitious scientific programs that will be a part of a long-term strategy.
Saudi Arabia committed itself to apply a five-year plan for 2000-2005, which encompasses objectives and policies that are supposed to realize a quantum leap in providing education for all.
Education for all in the seventh five-year draft plan (2000-2005):
The seventh five-year plan focused on the student and his/her needs since he/she is the major player in the educational process, in the light of the general objective "Education for All". The Plan has set up a series of objectives for every aspect related to the educational process. The objectives are the following:
2-1 To seek to create a center for educational development in order to increase the efficiency of educational curricula programs. To prepare educational and psychological studies and research that would cover the components of the educational process and the school environment (students, teachers, books, and teaching materials) and to apply their results in accordance with the Saudi situation.
2-2 To modernize and develop general education programs and plans in the light of the Islamic Charia in accordance with the changing needs of the society and of development objectives.
2-3 To evaluate the efficiency of general education to get informed about the most successful methods that affect the educational system in order to increase the level of the educational performance.
2-4 To improve school books in terms of form, content and editing.
2-5 To improve the status of school libraries and to give them the interest they deserve.
2-6 To introduce useful and modern educational means in terms of educational technology and to adapt them so as to serve educational objectives.
2-7 To give special interest to various teaching materials, and to seek to intensify their use.
2-8 To seek to introduce the systems of modern and developed techniques like computers in all fields of action.
2-9 To complete the studies under process about the established system of students assessment and to correct the shortcomings according to modern educational means.
2-10 To develop the programs of The Holy Koran inculcation through modernizing the teaching means and improving the teachers efficiency.
2-11 To establish programs to prepare and train special education teachers (people with disabilities) in teachers institutes.
2-12 To extend the programs for the development of students capacities and skills through scientific, cultural, social, artistic and scout activities.
2-13 To rehabilitate the centers of school activities for the spiritual, physical, social and mental fulfillment of students.
2-14 To develop the special information system of students, to guide them and follow up on them and assess their performance.
2-15 To extend preventive and treatment health services in schools.
2-16 To develop students registration measures.
2-17 To provide assisting services for students like transports to school, subsidies, and rations according to special norms.
3-1 To modernize and organize the administrative system in the Ministry as well as educational administrations in regions and districts as well as in other educational institutions, and to increase their efficiency through continuous in service training.
3-3 To improve the efficiency of headmasters technically and administratively.
3-4 To satisfy the needs for Saudi administrative and educational supervisors.
3-5 To satisfy all the needs of the educational sector in terms of equipment, tools, office furniture, school books, and teaching materials.
4-1 To provide school buildings to all educational levels.
4-2 To modernize school buildings design to provide the appropriate school environment (workshops, laboratories, play fields ) as well as security conditions and ventilation.
4-3 To increase the number of buildings for health units in schools, and to build more students dorms in educational areas.
4-4 To maintain educational facilities and to watch after their cleanliness.
5-1 To increase the level of teachers in the primary education cycle, and to consider the baccalaureate certificate as a precondition for teaching in this cycle.
5-2 To build the capacity of university teachers in order to acquire teaching skills.
6-1 To develop the training programs of educational advisors as well as national administrative inspectors.
6-2 To seek to realize auto-sufficiency in terms of national teachers in all educational cycles.
6-3 To employ Saudi citizens in the administrative board.
7-1 To focus on the role of the Higher Commission for literacy and adults education as well as that of subcommittees in planning for such education.
7-2 To coordinate the efforts with official parties regarding the programs of adults education and literacy.
7-3 To increase the capacity of adults education and literacy schools.
7-4 To support the Central Board for adults education and literacy and provide it with high skilled human resources.
7-5 To organize campaigns in remote and rural areas in order to raise awareness amongst citizens, in collaboration with other official parties.
7-6 To conduct field studies and research, and to assess the plans and programs of adults education and literacy in order to improve them.
7-7 To organize training sessions in order to increase the competence of people working in the field of adults education and literacy.
7-8 To provide incentives to encourage illiterates to study.
7-9 To give special attention to regional and international manifestations in order to use them for awareness raising and warning against illiteracy threats, and to cooperate with other official parties.
8-1 To encourage and develop the intellectual action through sponsoring sciences, arts and literature.
8-2 To raise the cultural awareness amongst youngsters and to develop their literature trends and competence.
8-3 To modernize and equip public libraries and cultural centers, to improve their status and to increase their performance.
8-4 To improve services provided by public and school libraries through ensuring technical skills, books and useful references.
8-5 To activate action in cultural fields in development and social services centers through preparing and training cultural specialists and to organize seminars and conferences etc.
9-1 To urge students to preserve public utilities and to protect the environment.
Main future programs
In order to achieve these objectives and policies, many programs were set especially in the following fields:
Efforts will continue for spreading PC use in educational and administrative fields. Many systems will be completed to meet the needs of educational institutions and schools. The Ministry of Education has adopted a national plan for spreading PCs in schools aiming at providing all schools in Saoudi Arabia and in all stage with PCs because it is considered as an essential tool, a teaching means and an information network.
The computer courses experience started with some companies in primary and intermediate stages for the academic year 1419-1420h. (1999-2000) in order to teach students important skills for their daily life where computers are no longer secondary tools.
The experience is being assessed now and a precise description of all its considerations is being prepared in order to expand the use of computers with the collaboration of the private sector.
The girls education sector also has programs for teaching computer use to girls and spreading its use.
The educational sources center project experience was evaluated and expanded in some schools. The idea of this project is in harmony with the modern educational objectives that call for avoiding teaching and follow the concept of developing the students capacity to learn by themselves and their innovative, research and detection skills because they constitute the tools that will be needed to face life with all its knowledge explosion and technology revolution.
Development efforts are still being undertaken in Koran learning schools just like in the public schools with the same way in setting plans, curricula and choosing teachers. They have the same curricula but with more concentration on learning the Koran. The seventh five-year plan includes a project aiming at increasing the number of Koran learning schools, their classes and students in all primary, intermediate and secondary stages.
The pilot schools program aims at constituting a classified school model ruled by high quality standards for learning and teaching operations seeking knowledge, know-how, expertise in a balance that sews their relation like changes that determine the teaching, learning and educational content.
This objective requires concentration on the development of three aspects of the teaching operation: the educational administration for a better efficiency; the learning strategies for meeting the educational developments and changes; in addition to the development of the students evaluation in order to be able to judge the results of the teaching operation on the students behaviour in a wider way.
High education is very important in achieving progress in order to get acquainted to the milieu and the world developments at all levels. For this reason and because of the results of the numerous seminars on education as well as the recommendations of the scientific studies undertaken by specialized researchers, we feel the need to training students for life by teaching them the knowledge, skills and expertise that help them meet life requirements and participate efficiently in all its fields. The curricula development efforts stress the importance to take into consideration the concept of education for life in all stages.
Intensified efforts are being undertaken in this regard to develop training programs for teachers as well as information designing in the most contemporary way in order to improve the quality of training an rendering it more convenient to the trainees needs. Some education employees follow training programs and courses in order to benefit from the experience of other countries and improve the level of education and skills. Then the programs are sought to be increased and implemented in a continuous way in order to train as many teachers as possible and concentrate on the trainers training programs in order to improve the trainers efficiency and training output.
Moreover, teachers who do not have a baccalaureate degree will still be submitted to training in order to improve their qualifications and those who have no educational training will be also taken care of.
Studies have shown that the loss in education resulting from repetition and dropout is one of the most important problems that affect the education efficiency. Therefore, the educational institutions in Saoudi Arabia study the causes of dropout and the means to stop it because it constitutes a big loss for the educational budget allocations that could be invested in educating new children. In this regard, it was decided to start a six-year research project in order to know the efficiency of the real cohort through a follow-up study of two pupil cohorts. These project aims at discovering the reality of education efficiency and determining the factors and reasons leading to repetition or drop-out and that in their turn affect the educational system efficiency.
The educational efficiency is expected to improve in the next few years as soon as the new students assessment regulations are implemented.
Although the experience of integrating children with special needs in public education schools is very short, the special education programs that are applied in public education schools are far better than those applied in special education institutes and programs. The number of children receiving special education services in the public education schools is superior to that of the children getting the same services in special education institutes and programs. Developing programs are now being prepared to allow the school environment to extend the integration operations.
The Ministry of Education set a new program for detecting talented students and taking care of them. It covers 2% of the public education students and will be generalized by 5% per year. Activities of the King Abdel Azeez and His Men Foundation for talented students will be developed; this foundation was opened by His Highness the Vice-Prime Minister and Head of the National Guards at the hundred anniversary of the establishment of the Kingdom. The Foundation will intensify its programs in the field of detecting and taking care of talented students.
Adult education and literacy programs have developed. Illiteracy has started to disappear with the spreading of primary education, which led to illiteracy withdrawal to around 10.5% - for males in 1998. The year 1446h. (2025) is expected to be the year of the end of illiteracy in Saoudi Arabia thanks to the efforts that are expected to be intensified in basic education as well as in literacy and adult education programs in their contemporary global dimension.
Global school assessment projects are being prepared. They are considered as strong support to the success of the actions that the school managers are in charge of. In fact, through this kind of project, every school manager will have a report on every school at his or her disposal, clarifying with scientific proofs the positive achievements of the concerned school and the ways to consolidate them as well as the negative steps and the ways to deal with them in order to ensure a better atmosphere for education, achieve its objectives and increase its efficiency.
This can be done by calling national private companies to participate in the cooperative school transportation program in order to get a wider scope of coverage for the program in a way that facilitates means for students and their parents to seek education without difficulties and obstacles.
For these regulations to be implemented, some materials and instruments should be provided and controllers and teachers should be trained. Many programs have been established to promote implementation of the regulations, to review them and operate the necessary developments to them. Teachers, supervisors and school managers will be trained on the new means and tools in the field of students assessment. A plan will be set to assess the new regulations so that the development will be based on practical facts and well studied steps in the future.
The State is intensifying its efforts in order to provide new premises as a continuation of the annual renewal process for schools and to replace the rented buildings for schools that are not meeting good educational requirements. The Ministry of Education has prepared a national plan for school buildings that covered 200 schools of different sizes and in all educational regions in accordance with contracts signed with one of the national companies. The General Presidency for Girls Education has set as a priority the development of the school building and the expansion of school premises that are equipped with educational requirements.
Within this plan, educational projects were financed and built on land owned by the educational institutions by the participation of non-governmental sector represented by the businessmen and the investors. The credit will be reimbursed on a long-term basis and new designs will be adopted to reduce the production cost and meet educational needs in accordance with the modern and developed educational standards and environmental criteria.
The Saoudi Association for educational and psychological sciences is studying regulations and standards for education credit for non governmental schools that help the education people assess the performance of the non governmental education institutions and provide information that help these institutions grow and survive.
One of the most important consequences of this project is the division of non-governmental schools into categories in accordance with some specific standards, which pushes them to improve their performance to the best in order to increase the education efficiency in this type of school.
In the last few years, the State adopted a new policy by addressing the private sector in order to make it participate more efficiently in financing the educational programs and projects. Schools and teaching compounds were built and missions and high studies were financed thanks to the efforts and participation of the private sector.
In this regard, the Ministry of Education established a new directorate for education economics and aiming at promoting the role of the society in supporting education and finding additional funding sources for it as well as achieving deeper and wider participation in the following orientations:
with the mechanism that prevents education from becoming a commercial product ruled by the logic of profit and loss. The educational institution could thus extend the basis of education and offer a developed education meting the individuals and society needs in accordance with the global development objectives and standards. The private sector (non governmental education) being committed to investing national elements;
b- the private sector would adopt more extracurricular activities programs. This is a role that has mostly a voluntary individual aspect, the activity supervisors residing inside the educational institution. A well-studied plan should be now adopted in order to promote these activities during the academic year or holidays depending on the agenda prepared by the specialists at the department for Students Affairs.
The private sector can monitor the management and functioning of the playgrounds attached to schools and transform them into activities centers for youngsters to enter them in the evening for a symbolic fee.
c- the project "adopting a school" will be implemented; a committee or an individual adopts a school and is in charge of the spending on its development projects and of providing the necessary consultation services.
d- the "educational experiencing" model should be implemented; the private sector finances the education researches and studies. This model is a guarantee for linking the educational research to true educational issues.
e- the school administrations should be given to specialized companies with a model that allows the State to own assets and contribute to the expenses.
The Ministry of Education is seeking to achieve the project of "educational satellite channel" and cooperates with one of the satellite channels that started broadcasting educational programs to get the educational materials that are needed and useful for our students and for the society as a whole.
Special programs in students education were prepared namely at the Scientific Activity Council that aims at early detecting tastes and skills and training students on thinking, acquiring skills and reaching the sources of information and knowledge by themselves.
The State is developing students services covering:
This project aims at promoting the role of the teachers faculties in conceiving, implementing and assessing the educational training programs that target teachers, school managers, education supervisors, heads of departments and educational units. The teachers who do not have baccalaureate degree will obtain it and teaching will be better and more efficient.
It is a project for providing copies of the Koran and Islamic books in Braille characters for blind people as well as speaking and recorded books for the hard of hearing.
There are some projects being completed in the field of childhood care:
In the light of the technical developments in all fields and the expected resulting increase in spare time, the Saoudi educational institutions are trying to provide students with special skills for spare time in their own interest and in the interest of their nation. These programs include students activities and different useful means added to the curricula.
As a step to mobilize efforts and improve the available resources for education and as a guarantee for better output for the educational system, some studies are being undertaken in order to find a structural mechanism for the planning instrument that would be in charge of all educational planning issues for all stages and types.
This concept considers the primary stage (six years) and the intermediate stage (three years) one school stage that allows learners to be prepared for enrolling in the labour market or continue their education, through its multiple forms and depending on their capacities.
Saoudi Arabia is seeking to provide education for all and has consecrated growing expenditures for this objective through 283 billion ryals in budget allocations during the two development plans implemented during the time this report was prepared (1990 2000). It concentrated its efforts on spreading education and admits all those who reach the regular age for primary education and even reduced the admittance age to 5 years and nine months. It also tried to increase educational efficiency and established specialized bodies represented by the Educational Development Center.
The EFA process has witnessed true implementation; the State having provided a place for every male or female student in its schools for the Saoudis as well as for the people residing on its territories.
The commitment operation is that of the State first to provide job opportunities for all. The five-year development plans were considered as an obligation to all those who attain school-age. The coming years will witness the achievement of compulsory education through special regulations.
This report gave a wide overview of the efforts undertaken by Saoudi Arabia in the field of Education For All by developing policies and plans providing education opportunities for all social categories and improving its efficiency. It exposed the achievements accomplished with Gods help and thanks to the continuous and generous support by the Government of Saoudi Arabia to the educational sector. The report also contains the main statistical indicators that evaluate the Government efforts in EFA. It finally mentioned the perspectives for EFA as well as the plans aiming at spreading it to all social categories.