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Education in Oman

Beginning with a push in the 1970s, the Omani education system has flourished, as nearly all school-aged children are attending school. However, the government of Oman has declared that not only do they intend to maintain the achievements made thus far, but they also fully expect to further enhance and improve the quality and efficiency of education in Oman.

Statistically, the concentration Oman has put on its peoples’ education is illustrated clearly through the literacy rates in the country. From 2008 to 2012, UNICEF reported the literacy rate amongst youths (15 to 24 years) to be over 97 percent. Surprisingly, females showed a stronger literacy rate than males. Unsurprisingly, the literacy rates were nearly identical to UNCIEF’s reported net primary school enrollment ratio.

Primary school is the first step in the Omani education system. It constitutes a six-year, basic level of education. Following this, students may attend a middle level of schooling. Upon completion of this second step, students have either completed their education and go on to work or they have academically qualified to continue into secondary schooling. At this point, students are given the option to specialize in either the sciences or arts – this requires the school to confirm the students’ proficiencies. Both programs result in a school certificate and, dependent on each student’s secondary school performance, provides a key into one of Oman’s nine colleges or the sole state university. The best part about public education in Oman is that it is given free of charge.

Higher education in Oman has seen growth, too. In 2016, Munawar Hameed, Head of Marketing and Public Relations at the Oman College of Management and Technology, reported that college registrations are going up and that more women have enrolled in higher education institutes than men. Further, the government even funds some students to matriculate at overseas universities, including some in the U.S. and UK.

Despite the success in the public education system, the government of Oman has pressed the private sector to make increased efforts in the education system, too. As private schools are held to the same curriculum standards as government schools and administer the same tests, there is little room for innovation. However, there is a market space for those who have achieved a higher education and are of Omani nationality to enter the business of schooling. In essence, the government is creating job opportunities, while focusing on promoting a greater education system.

Overall, Oman is successfully navigating the typically troubled waters of education in a poorer nation. However, despite the odds, the push for a more educated citizenry is paying off. The Ministry of Higher Education has done more than its due diligence in improving education in Oman. At the current rate of growth, Omani citizens should soon show nationwide literacy and education, which will place them far ahead of citizens in many surrounding countries.

Taylor Elkins

Photo: Google

10 Facts About the Gulf War
This January marks the 26th anniversary of the beginning of the Persian Gulf War, a conflict that displaced millions and would go on to set the pace of Middle Eastern dynamics in the twenty-first century. Here are 10 important things to know about the Gulf War.

    1. The conflict began on August 2, 1990, when Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein ordered the invasion of neighboring Kuwait by bombing their capital of Kuwait City and deploying 100,000 soldiers into the country. While Hussein demanded access to the country’s oil reserves, he also claimed to be supporting a popular revolution against Kuwait’s monarchy.
    2. The invasion was widely met with international criticism, drawing comments and sanctions from U.S. President George H.W. Bush and U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Hours after the invasion, the U.N. met in an emergency session, calling for Iraq’s immediate withdrawal from Kuwait, and imposing a worldwide ban on trade with Iraq.
    3. Standing opposed to Saddam Hussein was the Allied Coalition, consisting of 39 countries and 670,000 troops, over 60 percent of them from the U.S. Their initiative, Operation Desert Storm, began in January 1991, marking the beginning of international involvement.
    4. Much of the Allied Coalition’s concern centered on their fear that Iraq might invade Saudi Arabia in an attempt to take control of their oil reserves – had Hussein garnered control of these fields, he would have controlled the majority of the world’s oil supply.
    5. The U.S. Department of Defense estimated that the Gulf War cost more than $61 billion. The United States suffered 383 fatalities, while more than 10,000 Iraqis lost their lives in the fighting. Operation Desert Storm included the largest armored assault since World War II, as well as a battlefield that was the most well-prepared in the history of warfare.
    6. Estimates on the number of civilians killed during the conflict vary widely. During the war, Iraq downplayed this figure to maintain morale and dismiss the effectiveness of the Allied Coalition’s offensives. It is now generally agreed that roughly 3,000 Iraqi civilians lost their lives as a result of the war.
    7. Although a ceasefire was declared by President Bush on February 28, 1991, the economic sanctions imposed by the U.N. at the time of the invasion remained in place. A study released in 1995 indicated that as many 576,000 children may have died since the end of the war, with malnutrition running high and poised to increase.
    8. Just weeks after the ceasefire, in March 1991, uprisings against the Iraqi government erupted among Shi’a rebels in the south and northern Kurdish regions. The conflict was marked by extreme violence and mass executions of civilians, with victims burned alive, tortured, raped and murdered, often buried in mass graves – thousands more were “disappeared” after Saddam Hussein’s forces retook control of the country.
    9. By April 1991, the uprisings had been suppressed and Saddam Hussein remained in control of Iraq. At this time, almost a million refugees had spilled across the border into Iran, and 500,000 had fled north to Turkey. UNHCF mounted a massive airlift of humanitarian aid and supplies to Iran, but the need far exceeded provisions. In September, the organization launched a $35 million initiative to supply roofs for the homes of 350,000 displaced Iraqis.
    10. It is estimated that as many as five million people from 30 different countries were displaced as a result of the Gulf War. Countries throughout the world, as of June 1991, had donated an estimated $1.35 billion in aid to support the refugees of one of the largest migrations in human history.

    Although brief, the Persian Gulf War in 1991 impacted the lives of millions throughout the region and cost billions in aid. The conflict went on to set the stage for Middle Eastern relations in the new millennium, acting as a precursor to the War in Iraq that began in 2003.

    Emily Marshall

    Photo: Flickr