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  • Writer's pictureRon Budd

Prince Salman's Eye on the Saudi Education System

If you didn’t already know or maybe you didn’t care Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been acting like a king lately. As his royal father slowly steps back Prince Salman is getting more and more involved in running the Kingdom. And with the strong support of the Allegiance Council, it seems unlikely there will be anyone to usurp him. That’s good new for educators in the Kingdom. With a yearly budget topping off at a little over 50 billion U.S. dollars it’s pretty clear where the Prince’s priories lie. The Kingdom has spent the last few decades redeveloping the infrastructures of their education system. Several new universities and colleges have been completed and there are plans for more. In terms of 21st-century literacy, Saudi Arabia is plowing ahead. Prince Salman has consistently given the approval for the allocation of vast amounts of riyals into the coffers of the education budget. And the lion's share of that is dedicated to the acquisition and utilization of electronic resources. This is also good news. It’s good news for the students. No one with any experience teaching in Saudi Arabia can deny the integration of technology into every aspect of a typical classroom throughout the peninsula. I personally can attest to this. I spent about 4 years living and working in Saudi Arabia. A typical university classroom in KSA has all of the modern equipment needed to educate the youth in 21st-century literacy skills.

However, there is one real problem. Saudis don’t like to teach. Yep, in a country dedicated to education and the continual development of the needed supporting infrastructure: Saudis don’t teach. At least most of them don’t. Sure, there’s no shortage of Saudi Muftis. That’s a career path many young Saudis aspire to, but a career as a secular educator is a career many avoid. And yes, that’s good news for all the rest of us teachers. That’s because if you are a qualified teacher, you can get a relatively good paying job within the Kingdom. On the campus I worked on most of the teaching staff were foreign nationals. Egyptians tend to dominate the profession.

The reasons Saudis don’t teach are deep rooted in their culture. I could be wrong about this but it’s something that I believe won’t change in my lifetime. This poses a problem for the Kingdom in that it goes against the nation’s grand vision to integrate more Saudis into the workforce. This is going to be an ongoing challenge for Prince Mohamed bin Salman. I hope that foreign nationals always have a place in, at and on Saudi university campuses and I also hope for the best for the Saudi education system.

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