For many foreigners, Saudi Arabia is wrapped in mysteries of its traditions and cultural peculiarities. Nowadays, it’s trying to unveil itself to the rest of the world. Its education system has gone through severe changes in the last 70 years. It’s hard to believe, but in the 1970s, only 2% of women and 15% of men could write and read. Today, this rate has reached 91%. So, what has happened to the education system in Saudi Arabia, and why so many foreigners choose to study here?
The Education Basis in Saudi Arabia
The education is based on the strict rules of conduct; however, they entirely free the parents of the school cares and fuss. The government funds the education and makes it free for every citizen, providing books and all the necessary materials.
Saudi Arabia has both public and private schools, universities, colleges, and vocational institutes. Moreover, there are exclusive education establishments for people with disabilities and adults. The country realized the importance of providing its citizens with an opportunity to reach their full potential regardless of gender, age, and social status.
The whole educational system is built about the study of Islam. However, children and students have full access to various fields of arts and science. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics dominate human sciences. At the same time, the education system increased the number of English classes.
As far as rules of conduct are concerned, it’s forbidden to raise one’s voice, use a smartphone, smoke, or enter into discussion with a teacher at school. There are punishments for violating the regulations. Boys and girls study in the same facility until the end of primary school. Many schools have uniforms – it’s loose-fitting and discreet clothes for boys and a niqab or abaya for girls.
The classes are equipped with the latest technologies (including the desks). Private schools offer more hi-tech trends in comparison to public ones; however, that’s more than enough to get a high level of knowledge. The education process consists of a kindergarten, a compulsory six-year elementary program, intermediate school, and high or vocational schools.
Colleges, universities, vocational institutions offer higher education opportunities. The private higher education establishments cost not less than $1500 per year, while public colleges and universities are free. International students have the same advantages as local citizens do – monthly living allowance, free medical care, discounts for food and beverages. It takes up to 4 years to get a degree in social and soft sciences, and 5-7 years if you choose science, technology, engineering, medical, or mathematics.
Higher Education for Foreign Students
The number of international students in Saudi Arabia is growing each year steadily. Scholarships and tuitions, excellent modern universities, and job opportunities attract people all over the world to get their degrees in this sunny country.
What are the advantages of getting higher education in Saudi Arabia?
- Students have opportunities to study special programs explicitly developed for foreigners;
- a chance to study in English (especially, when your major disciplines are related to STEM fields);
- an opportunity to get your master’s degree in Islam, Science, Art, Medicine, IT, Agriculture.
Saudi Arabia is currently in the process of a total transformation. These changes will also influence the education system. According to the program “Vision-2030”, the education system must change in accordance with the needs of the labor market. This program aims to attract international experts to work in their educational facilities. They plan to expand the high school system and graduate more technical professionals.
The Saudi Education Minister digitalizes all the books and sends approximately 1700 local teachers annually to various schools all over the world to develop their skills and learn new approaches from European and American colleagues. He has also announced that female pupils can now attend physical education classes in public schools. Besides, in September 2019, women were allowed to teach boys in Saudi schools. So far, this change only concerns the kindergarten and primary school stages. However, it’s already a huge step forward. In addition to this, public schools added an extra hour to the curriculum devoted to self-study of various social and science projects. Children will work on topics that strike their interest under the supervision of teachers.
The secret ingredient to a successful education system in Saudi Arabia is simple. This country respects and sticks to its traditions and openly accepts the challenges the modern world sends it.