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Educated people are the basic building block of any civilized society. Any expenditure on education by a government should be seen as an investment for the future of the nation .In modern time, the education is divided into two main streams i.e. General Education and Professional one. While general education necessary up to a certain level to understand the principles of society, the professional education is a must to work in a definite manner as per the requirement of particular profession.
Historical Aspects: If this is accepted that education is a time intensive activity and can be done in formal and non formal ways than Mecca and Medina appear to be the oldest educational centers of the teachings of Islam. In 1932 when Saudi Arabia became a nation the education was largely a set of instructions from various Islamic Schools. These instructions were mainly based on the teachings of Quran .This type of education was limited to very few people.
MODERN CONCEPT : At present the education is available to all the citizens of kingdom but only 61 percents of all the children attend the schools as the education is not compulsory .The Government of Saudi Arabia has Launched a program to reform and modernize the education system of kingdom . In Saudi Arabia following three agencies are responsible for providing education:
1) Ministry of Education
2) The ministry of Higher Education and
(3) The General Organization for technical Education and Vocational training (GOTEVT).
This is the stage of non formal education, also called as pre primary education. It is for the children of 3 to 5 years age group .Kindergarten stage is not compulsory for admission to the primary stage of schooling. However the Government gives financial and technical assistance to establish such facilities which are called as nurseries. According to the data of year 2007 there were 100,714 children getting this type of no formal education. Out of these kindergarten students 51,364 were males and 49,350 were females .The gross enrollment ratio for boys and girls was 11.1 percent and 10.4 percent respectively with that of all children (boys and girls combined) being 10.8 percent.
Time period prescribed for primary education in Saudi Arabia is six years with the age of entry being six years in the first grade .All primary schools are day schools. There is no coeducation system and the boys and girl schools are separate from each other. The children are given Elementary Education certificate after passing the grade 6 of primary education in order to get entry to Intermediate education. In 2007 there were 1,255,117 male and 1,187,365 female students (Total 2,442,482) according to the government data. UNESCO has estimated that a gross enrollment ratio for boys was 99.9 percent in 2007 while that for girls was a little less being 96.3 percent. A gross enrollment ratio was 98.1 percent for all the children.
The time span of Intermediate education in Saudi Arabia is three years. In 2007 there were 609,300 male and 535,248 female students at the level of intermediate level of education. The total strength of all the students was 1,144,548. The number of teachers was 108,065, out of which 54,034 were males, and 54031 were females. A gross enrollment rate for total was estimated to be 95.9 percent in 2007
Secondary education in Saudi Arabia consists of two separate streams i.e. general and specialized. This is the final stage of general education with a time span of three years. After the intermediate education, students have the opportunity for both general and specialized secondary education. The specialized training programs, too; lasts three years in the areas of industry, commerce and agriculture. In 2007 there were 541,849 males and 471,225 females (total 1,013,074) enrolled at this level of education. The number of teachers was 41,108 males and 46,715 females totaling 87,823 in that year. (Saudi Arabia Secondary Education)
Higher education in Saudi Arabia is supervised by the Ministry of higher Education and follows the pattern of USA. This ministry was established in 1975 with a view to regulate the higher education in Saudi Arabia and developing long term plans for the same. Higher education takes four years for graduation in the field of humanities and social sciences and five to six years in technical fields like medicine, engineering and pharmacy. King Saud University established in 1957 was the first step towards the modern higher education in the country. This was the first university in entire Arab world. Presently this university accommodates more than 50,000 students. Apart from King Saud University there are 24 government universities in Saudi Arabia. Some institutes provide university level education in specialized fields there are many private colleges and institutions and community colleges, affiliated to these universities. There is a provision of distance learning in some colleges and departments.
TABLE: Situation of Higher Education in Saudi Arabia (2006)
Students Enrolled For Male Female Total
Bachelor Program 187,489 340,657 528,146
Master program 5551 4,217 9,768
PhD 1,293 1,117 2,410
Intermediate Diploma Courses 72,199 21,769 93,968
Higher Diploma Courses 1,548 405 1953
Overall 636,245 (268,080 male and 368,165 female) students were enrolled in higher education in 2006.
In 1960 a separate administration for girl education was established and since then there is a continuous rise in the number of female students. However certain streams are still prohibited for them like engineering, architecture and journalism act. Although women are prohibited to do practice in courts the first batch of female law graduates has passed in 2008 .The intention of the government is to allow them to assist female clients in courts. The number of girl schools has increased at a faster pace than that of boys schools as the government is paying more attention to girlsââ‚¬â„¢ education. Accordingly the gross enrollment rate for female has risen to 36.1 percent against gross enrollment rate for male which is 24.7 percent. Gross enrollment rate for total (both male and female) was 30.2 percent in 2006.The high general level of female education in the country is reflected by the presence of a very high number of female professors in the country. Saudi Arabia provides worldââ‚¬â„¢s largest scholarship program to its female students to earn doctorate degree from western universities. Nora Bint Abdullah al-Fayez, a US-educated former teacher has been appointed as deputy education minister in charge of a new department for female students
Private education institutes supplement the education system of Saudi Arabia at all the levels. The nodal authority to supervise the private educational institutes is Ministry of Education. The government provides not only the financial assistance to these schools but also the free text books. UNESCO figures of 2007 show the details of contribution of these private institutions. (MOHE)
TABLE: Percentage of Students in Private School/Institutions
Stage/ Education Program Percentage of Students
in Private School/ Institution
Pre Primary 48.9%
Intermediate (General Program) 6.4%
Intermediate (Technical & Vocational) 70.3%
Secondary Education (General Program) 3.4%
Secondary Education (Technical & Vocational) 61.6%
TECHNICAL AND VOCATIONAL EDUCATION:
Technical and vocational education is a vital and extremely important part of the Saudi educational system. The aim of technical and vocational education is to upgrade technical skills, increase productivity, and enable the nation to keep pace with globally changing technological developments. This promotes economic and social stability, maintains higher standard of livings as well as protects Islamic values. GOTEVT is the government authority to regularize this education. In Saudi Arabia vocational and technical education is divided in three stages:
(2) Junior college (intermediate technical colleges), and
(3) College (higher technical institutes) levels.
The government provides benefits for students enrolled in these programs. Secondary institute graduates can get loans to start their own business. Persons with higher qualifications may go to different colleges as faculty members. A teaching allowance called as stipend is given to all graduates opting for teaching.
Requirements for Admission to a Secondary Technical Program are:
(1) A good behavior certificate from the last school attended,
(2) Passing a medical examination,
(3) Saudi citizenship, and
(4) An Intermediate School Certificate. Curricula of programs differ from trade to trade in electronics, mechanical, electrical, oil and minerals, and auto/engine technology.
A four-year program of study leading to a Bachelor of Science degree in Technology Engineering is offered by Junior College of Technology in Riyadh. There are Colleges of Technology at Jeddah, Dammam, and Buraidah where the students are offered to study in the fields of mechanical, electrical, electronic and auto/engine technology. These courses are also offered by two new junior colleges at Abha and Al-Ahsa along with commerce and management courses.
Requirements for Admission to Junior Colleges: A candidate aspiring to study in a technical college must fulfill the following requirements:
(1) Saudi citizenship; non-Saudis may be given permission under special circumstances
(2) GOTEVT Secondary Institute, Secondary School Scientific Section, or Secondary School Liberal Arts Certificate.
(3) At least a good grade in previous examination.
(4) Applicants must pass a medical exam
(5) Personal interview
(6) have a good behavior certificate from the last school attended,
(7) Enroll as full-time students
(8) In the4 case of a gap of time exceeding three or more years since a secondary certificate was issued, trainees must pass a written examination given by the college committee.
The Higher Technical Institute: Riyadh: This institute runs two- and three-year training programs for instructors needed to staff secondary industrial institutes and vocational training centers. There is a one-year program for graduates of College of Technology .This qualification is essential to teach at secondary industrial institutes, vocational centers, or colleges of technology. (Education in Saudi)
KING ABDULLAH SCHOLAR SHIP PROGRAMME:
Saudi Government with an estimated cost of SR9 billion has started this programme and it will be implemented over the next six years. The aim of this project is to develop a highly skilled and motivated work force in the future in accordance of the requirement of the Kingdom. This goal is to be achieved by helping the Saudi students to acquire high standard of skills in academic and professional fields. This program will be supervised by Crown Prince Sultan with the help of a ministerial committee. This scholarship is provided for the purpose of study in USA, UK, Canada, Australia, India, Malaysia China and other countries. The Core of this program is to create high-tech manpower in the fields of medical sciences, computer applications, engineering, administration, and finance etc. Up to March 2011, 106065 students have been provided this scholarship
Conclusion: Although the roots of education in Saudi Arabia go as far back as the history of Islam, the modern concept of education is relatively new for this country. But within a short span of less than hundred years Saudi Arabia has written the story of its success in all fields of education At present the spectrum of education in Saudi Arabia spreads from the oral recitation of Islamic Teachings to modern sociology, commerce, science and technology, medicine law etc. There is special emphasis on girl education and technical to keep pace with globally changing educational environment.