The Growth of the Education System in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Education and teaching till the late 19th century was restricted to writing, reading and the recitation of the Qur’an in all areas of what is now known as Saudi Arabia. The concept of Higher education in Islamic studies merely existed in the main cities only. The actual beginning of what is usually called nowadays “modern education” took place at the end of the 19th century. The modern education began in the Ottoman provinces of Al-Ahsa and Hijaz. Later on, in the early 1920s a few of the private sector schools started an initiative of offering non-religious courses and subjects in a few of the larger towns but officially the modern education was promoted by the state itself in 1930s. A vast network of schools was setup in the start of 1951. In the mid of year 1954 the ministry of education came into existence and its first minister was none other than Prince Fahd Bin Abd Al-Aziz. The education for girls on a public level began in 1964, though it was strongly opposed by the conservative circles but still the government pursued its project. The development plans introduced by the state in the 1970s and the 1980s played a pivotal part in establishing a strong and sound education system.

The literacy rate in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was about 15% for men and about 2% for women but in 1990s this percentage saw a massive increase, for men it became 73% and for women it became 48% and later on in 2002 the percentage increased even more, 90.9% and 70.2%, respectively.

Whatever the facts may be, the thing worth mentioning here is that the Saudi government has made an exceptional effort in setting the standards of education quite high and that is clearly visible nowadays.

Some more Highlights of Saudi Education:

In Saudi Arabia, it is not compulsory to get education but still it is free for all and inclusive of health services and study course material. It means the stretch of education in is mainly dependent on the number of schools available in the various regions rather than the other factors. As of now, it seems that the state is working rigorously towards improving and increasing the rate of enrollment. According to some data:

In Year 1960 number of Students enrolled:

Boys: 22% and Girls: 2%

In Year 1981 number of Students enrolled:

Boys: 81% and Girls: 43%

In Year 1989 number of Students enrolled:

Boys: 1.4 million and Girls: 1.2 million

Nowadays, it is considered that the percentage of female students enrolled has exceeded the percentage of male students enrolled and this figure is for both schools and the universities. In the year 2001 and 2002 there were about 28000 public schools and colleges in Saudi Arabia, of which 16,600 schools and 73 colleges were for girls only. Whereas other educational and training institutions reached to a number of 214.

The current facts and figures reveal that about 1.19 million male and 1.64 female students are enrolled in schools in Saudi Arabia and another 1.5 million (both boys and girls) are registered in the private sector schools.

Public Relations for Online Educational Systems

Traditional public relations and community goodwill efforts for online education assistance is somewhat difficult because the online educational system helps those that participate in the virtual world as opposed to an educational facility. This fact should not deter a public relations specialist who works on online educational programs or systems because they need to contact those people who are not online and perhaps might like to look at online education systems as another option.

Many people cannot attend class due to transportation issues or human mobility issues. Many folks are stay-at-home parents and they cannot attend class either, but a need to get an online degree or participate in an online education system to get the skills they need to earn a living.

What types of ways can you promote an online educational system? Of course the best way is through word-of-mouth advertising. However, it is not always so easy to get to those people who are in their homes all day and sometimes it makes sense to use public service announcements on the radio or a little radio advertising. Other times direct mail can work.

The best thing is a front-page article in the newspaper of the success story of someone who used the online educational system to get an advanced degree or a good job. It is these sorts of public relations and publicity programs that make online educational systems more newsworthy. Perhaps you will consider some of this in 2006.

Education Law and Faith Schools

According to recent estimates, almost a third of all schools in England and Wales are faith schools, and almost a quarter of all children are educated in a faith school. These types of schools were a key plank in the labour government’s strategy for education, and the Coalition has indicated that it will continue to increase the amount of educational services which are provided by religious groups.

There are three types of faith schools: voluntary aided, voluntary controlled and independent religious schools, and different rules apply to each of these.

Voluntary Controlled Faith Schools
These are schools which are funded by the state and where the state is responsible for the day-to-day management and control of the school. The buildings and land are owned by a religious group, and that religious group has the right to appoint the governors and often the head teacher, but other teachers are employed by the local education authority. The appointment of these teachers is subject to the same conditions as teachers in regular state schools and there is no requirement that the teachers profess the same faith as the religious group which established the school.

In voluntary controlled faith schools, the admissions policy is set and administered by the local education authority. This means that these types of schools are usually open to all students and there is no requirement that the student has an attachment to the faith held by the religious group which established the school.

Voluntary Aided Faith Schools
These are schools which are funded by the state but are managed and controlled by a religious group. The religious group owns the land and buildings, appoints the governors of the school and selects and appoints teachers. All teachers are directly employed by the religious group, and it is lawful for the religious group to require teachers to profess the same faith and to discipline staff for breaching religious principles or acting in a way which is inconsistent with the schools ethos.

In voluntary aided faith schools, the admissions policy is determined and enforced by the governors of the school. This means that very often prospective students are required to demonstrate some adherence to the religious principles on which the school is founded.

Independent Faith Schools
These are schools which are entirely funded and controlled by a religious group. The religious group appoints the governors and employs all of the staff as well as setting the admissions policy. Independent faith schools often require both teachers and students to be professing members of a particular religious sect or denomination, and can discipline both staff and students if they act in a way which is inconsistent with the schools ethos and religious values.

Teaching in Faith and Religious Schools
Both voluntary aided and voluntary controlled faith schools are required to teach the national curriculum, and students will cover the same subjects as pupils in other state maintained schools. The only exception to this is in the case of religious education, where faith schools are allowed to set their own curriculum which will usually focus on the religious beliefs held by the charity or church which founded the school. Voluntary aided and voluntary controlled schools are also entitled to insist that religious education is taught by a professing member of a particular faith or denomination.

There is no requirement for independent faith schools to teach the national curriculum and these schools will set their own subjects and studies.

For a variety or reasons, ranging from smaller class sizes to higher standards of discipline many faith schools have better league table results than other state run schools and this makes them highly desirable. Many parents will consider legal challenges to admission criteria to try and get their children a place.

Special Education Laws, Impacts

Special education laws have had a substantial impact on bilingual special education. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), originally passed in 1975 and reauthorized in 2004, governs special education services in public schools. The law protects the rights of students with disabilities and their families and tries to ensure that ELLs are assessed fairly. The law includes numerous provisions outlined below.

1. Informed consent: Schools must obtain written informed consent from parents or guardians to evaluate a student. Parents must be fully informed of their rights, any records to be released and to whom, and the nature and purpose of the evaluation. Parents or guardians must be informed in their native language or primary mode of communication.

2. Multidisciplinary team: Students should be assessed by a team of professionals with varied areas of expertise according to the student’s individuals needs. The team should include at least one general education teacher and one special education teacher. For English language learners, the team should include someone with expertise in the language acquisition process.

3. Comprehensive evaluation: Before an initial placement, the multidisciplinary team must conduct a complete assessment in all areas of suspected disability. No single procedure can be used as the sole criterion for determining an appropriate educational program for a child. Alternative procedures should be used when standardized tests are not considered appropriate (e.g., with culturally and linguistically diverse students). A comprehensive evaluation should include an analysis of the instructional setting and the child’s instructional history.

4. Exclusionary criteria: A student should not be labeled if the academic struggles are primarily the result of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage. IDEA 2004 adds that a child should not be found to have a disability if the determinant factor is poor instruction in reading or math, or limited English proficiency.

5. Nondiscriminatory assessment: Assessments should be (a) selected and administered so as not to be racially or culturally discriminatory; (b) provided and administered in the child’s native language or other mode of communication and in the form most likely to yield accurate information on what the child knows and can do academically, developmentally, and functionally, unless it is clearly not feasible; (c) used for the purposes for which the assessments are valid and reliable; (d) administered by trained and knowledgeable personnel; and (e) administered in accordance with any instructions provided by the producer of the assessments.