Education in Saudi Arabia Essay
Problems and Solutions for the Education System in Saudi Arabia
Education system has always been a great concern of officials in Saudi Arabia. The main problem is that students have poor knowledge after schools and universities, so they cannot find a job. The aim of this paper is to analyze the most significant problems of the educational system in Saudi Arabia and offer solutions for reducing their negative effects.
Quality of education is one of the most vivid issues in the country. According to the report of the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution, approximately half of male students did not meet the requirements for basic education after four years of studying.
As for girls, only one third of them met basic requirements. Failing to meet to the requirements for basic education means that they have unsatisfied mathematics, reading and writing skills. Low quality of school education causes problems in related fields. In particular, children with poor basic education skills continue their studying at university and then cannot find a job due to their weak performance. Many of university graduates start teaching at schools preparing another generation of weak students. Therefore, it is necessary to improve quality of teaching to solve this issue.
One of the ways is testing proficiency but experts have different opinions towards this approach. For example, the report’s researcher Maysa Jalbout says that there are some schools that state that all teachers can pass proficiency tests in the written form but incompetent teachers will not be able to demonstrate good results in the training course. Therefore, training is believed to be an effective option to proficiency testing. Schools explain the feasibility of training by changing requirements to teachers. Today, they are supposed not only teach children how to read, write and do mathematics but also solve certain problems and communicate with different people. Problem-solving and communication skills can be transferred to educators only during appropriate trainings course and cannot be evaluated through proficiency tests. However, there are also experts that believe in efficiency of proficiency testing. They support their point of view by the example from the American education system, particularly American ex-President Bill Clinton also insisted on testing teachers when he was governor of Arkansas. At the same time, Clinton met a strong opposition from the side of teacher’s unions but he managed to implement his initiatives. This allowed him to improve economic and employment level of his state. The main secret of his success is making graduates competitive and productive.
Another problem is unsatisfied educational opportunities for female students. Girls are taught with a help of the “studio system” that does not provide face-to-face interaction with a teacher. For example, male teachers of physics cannot go with their female students to a laboratory, so all their lessons are theoretical. This clearly reduces the effectiveness of the education. Only medical colleges and universities do not apply such system. To solve this issue, it is necessary to equip classrooms with internet. This would help to make a more interactive learning environment. Besides, female students should be provided with videoconferencing opportunities, so they would be able to see their male teachers. Another option is to invite only female lectures for teaching girls, which would make the “studio system” useless. In the future, colleges could use the experience of universities and medical college and make educational opportunities equal for males and females.
In addition, the educational system in Saudi Arabia is not modern enough. Graduates of universities lack flexible and dynamic skills that companies are searching today. In 2007, the King Abdullah launched reforming of the educational system through spending money on conducting extracurricular activities, improving curriculum and training teachers. The main purpose of the reform was to modify the learning styles of students. They were encouraged to learn to solve problems instead of just remembering some facts. However, despite significant spending on various projects, education system of the country is still outdated. The positive result of the educational reforms is that university graduates have better skills than earlier. Another related problem is that students choose professions that are not in demand, so it greatly reduces their chances to find a job. At the same time, many companies in Saudi Arabia and across the Gulf Cooperation cannot find enough skilled workers for such areas as engineering, science and medicine. To solve the issue, Saudi Arabia needs to create a word-class education system that would teach students skills that are in the greatest demand. In particular, the focus should be on improving opportunities for learning mathematics, technology, science and engineering. Besides, students should be encouraged to be active participants of the learning process. For example, it is useful to involve them into various debates where they could share their views and discuss certain topics. Teachers should try to teach them through dialogue. Students should be taught to accept other ideas even if these ideas do not respond their cultural and religious values. Such skills are important for working in Western companies or studying outside Saudi Arabia.
In conclusion, the reports about poor students’ skills and high unemployment rate demonstrate that Saudi Arabia has problems in the education system. First, the country provides education of low quality. The reason is unprofessional teaching. Therefore, it is necessary to implement testing of proficiency and also some training programs for improving communicational and problem-solving skills of educators. Second, educational opportunities for females should be enhanced. This could be done through using videoconferencing during lessons and inviting female teachers. Third, the educational system of Saudi Arabia should be modernized. This refers to learning styles, teaching methods and curriculum. The main focus should be promoting such areas as mathematics, technology, science and engineering because they do not have enough skilled workers. Students should not only listen to a teacher but try to share their opinions and offer own ideas for solving certain issues.