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education in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia understands the importance of teaching its people. Its government is increasing efforts to provide primary, secondary and tertiary education to all of its citizens. The Kingdom is improving literacy, expanding forms of education, educating women and more. Here are 10 facts about education in Saudi Arabia.

10 Facts About Education in Saudi Arabia

  1. The Kingdom, Saudi Arabia’s monarchy, requires citizens to have an education. Children between 6 and 14 years old must attend school. About 200,000 children total did not attend school in 2009, however. That number decreased to about 67,000 by 2013.
  2. The Kingdom does not require college-level education, but Saudi Arabian society values it. The King Faisal Foundation, a Saudi Arabian nonprofit organization founded in 1976, supports higher education, creates universities throughout the kingdom, gives grants and helps to build better lives filled with learning. People donate to the organization to fund new schools for Saudi Arabian citizens.
  3. The Qur’an, the religious text of Saudi Arabia, is a core foundation of Saudi Arabia’s faith, society, government, law and education. The Qur’an teaches many educational values, including to “observe the earth and heavens” by learning the natural sciences like biology and Tirmidhi, learning about angels and praying for the wellbeing of people who search for knowledge. People often value the word of the Qu’ran in school textbooks, but there is a controversy over whether schools should teach it. The majority of over 700 nonprofit charitable organizations are taking donations to keep the Qur’an a subject of study.
  4. Women could not attend school before the 1950s. The government realized that uneducated women could not find husbands and start families. Many men attained relationships with international women instead, due to their higher education levels. Therefore, the government decided to allow women in Saudi Arabia the right to pursue an education and created a separate girls’ education system.
  5. Today in Saudi Arabia, women have the chance to stay in school longer. Societal standards give women more time to attend school and to study. People do not expect women to attain a career after college, but rather expect them to care for their families instead.
  6. Saudi Arabia has online schooling. Colleges such as the Deanship and Faculty of Distance Learning at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah allow flexibility in students’ schedules, allowing them to learn from their local library or home. Citizens push to have more online learning in Saudi Arabia today, hoping that everwhere in Saudi Arabia will soon accredit online learning. Writers such as Hend Suliman Al-Khalifa, an author in the e-Learn Magazine report, promote online universities like the Arab Open University.
  7. The Ministry of Higher Education has not officially recognized online education as a valid source. As a result, finding a job may be harder for students with an online degree. 
  8. Saudi Arabian students often enroll in the University of Phoenix, a private, online university in the United States. The Ministry of Education accepts a degree from this U.S. school as an official document, despite it being a private school.  The University of Phoenix offers many degrees and classes ranging from engineering, entrepreneurism and behavioral sciences to cultural studies and the performing arts.
  9. Due to Saudi Arabia’s effort to educate its population, the literacy rate for people 15 years or older has risen. The literacy rate appears to have continued rising past 2015, according to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics. Saudi Arabia’s literacy rate has risen by almost 20 percent in Saudi Arabia from 1995 to 2015. The UNESCO Institute of Statistics also reports that learning and participation in school have increased from 1995 to 2015.
  10. The Saudi Arabian school system has four categories: pre-primary, primary, secondary and tertiary. Children 3 to 5 years old are in the pre-primary stage. The primary stage includes children 6 to 11 years old. Secondary education includes teens from ages 12 to 17, while tertiary education teaches those from 18 to 22 years old. Children from ages 6 to 14 must go to school, but Saudi Arabian society values additional school.

Saudi Arabia improved the literacy of its adult population, but still has goals to widen its educational efforts. Citizens are working towards appealing the government to accept online-based learning officially, and the Ministry of Education continues to monitor the education system.

– Sofia Ponomareva
Photo: Pixabay

Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan addresses poverty
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has introduced an ambitious restructuring and development plan called Vision 2030. This plan was first released by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and King Salman in April 2016. Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan addresses poverty by working to boost female participation in the workforce, reforming the health and education system and reducing the national unemployment rate.

The goals also include diversifying the Saudi economy, increasing life expectancy, achieving environmental sustainability and making Saudi Arabia a tourist-friendly destination, among others. These are five of the many ways that Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan addresses poverty.

How Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 Plan Addresses Poverty

  1. Empowering the Nonprofit Sector
    The best way that Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan addresses poverty is by setting up a regulatory framework that strengthens the nonprofit sector by offering government support and incentives for wealthy families to contribute, and increasing the number of government projects that generate a social impact. The kingdom currently has fewer than 1,000 nonprofits, which contribute only 0.3 percent of the national GDP. The goal is to increase the sector’s contribution to GDP from less than 1 percent to 5 percent, and to rally one million volunteers for this sector each year, compared to the current average of 11,000.
  2. Increasing Women’s Rights and Participation
    The kingdom’s Vision 2030 economic reform plan sets out a goal to increase female participation in the workforce from 22 percent to 30 percent. Additionally, as a part of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan, the Saudi government now funds the education of more than 35,000 Saudi women around the globe. New jobs for women have also been created in the government and in the military. Empowering women and allowing them to participate in the workforce can help them provide for their family and be self-sufficient, thus helping to fight poverty worldwide.
  3. Reforming Education
    The kingdom will be investing in childhood education by reforming the country’s academic and educational system. The government has also made numerous scholarships available that are aimed at Saudi students wanting to attend top international universities. To further develop local educational opportunities, Saudi Arabia also aims to have at least five universities ranked among the top 200 in the world by 2030. To do this, the government plans on preparing a modern curriculum with rigorous standards and tracking its progress and improvement throughout the years. Additionally, it plans to work with the private sector to ensure that students are prepared for the job market in each sector. This will help fight poverty by increasing the opportunities available to Saudi students worldwide.
  4. Investing in Small Business and Enterprise
    Small and medium-sized enterprises are essential to economic growth since they create jobs and promote financial independence. However, these enterprises currently account for only 20 percent of the national GDP, compared to up to 70 percent in more developed economies. In order to increase investment in small and medium-sized enterprises, the government has created the SME Authority to encourage entrepreneurship and help create easier access to funding and remove burdensome legal and administrative obstacles that are preventing their growth and creation.
  5. Investing in Saudi Arabia as a Tourist Destination
    In 2018, tourists visas will be issued for the first time ever in Saudi Arabia. Previously, tourist visas could only be acquired by Muslims going on the Hajj. Additionally, the government is investing in several luxury hotels and facilitating access to heritage sites. This part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 addresses poverty because it will create jobs and increase the amount of money circulating in the Saudi economy.

King Salman described his mission by saying, “My first objective is for our country to be a pioneering and successful global model of excellence, on all fronts, and I will work with you to achieve that.” Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plans to accomplish this objective by alleviating poverty throughout the country.

– Luz Solano-Flórez
Photo: Flickr