Education in Saudi Arabia is segregated by sex and divided into three separately administered systems: general education for boys, education for girls and traditional Islamic education (for boys). The Ministry of Education, established in 1952, presides over general education for boys, and education for girls comes under the jurisdiction of the General Presidency for Girls’ Education. Both sexes follow the same curriculum and take the same annual examinations. Islamic education trains Saudi boys to become members of the Ulema (religious clergy).
The religious secondary school curriculum includes the general academic secondary school curriculum but focuses primarily on Islamic and Arabic studies. Religious secondary schools are administered by Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University and the Islamic University of Medinah. These schools, along with religious institutions of higher education, parallel the secular system. PRIMARY EDUCATION : I. Primary School Duration: Six years (ages 6 to 12) Curriculum: Arabic, art education, geography, history, home economics (for girls), mathematics, physical education (for boys), Islamic studies and science II.
Intermediate School: Duration: Three years (ages 12 to 15) General Curriculum: Arabic, art education, English, geography, history, home economics (for girls), mathematics, physical education (for boys), religious studies and science SECONDARY EDUCATION : I. General Secondary School: Duration: Three years (ages 15 to 18) Compulsory Subjects: During the first year, students share a common curriculum, and in the final two years are divided into scientific and literary streams.
Students scoring 60 percent in all first-year subjects may choose between the two streams. Those who score under 60 percent must opt for the literary stream. General Curriculum: Arabic, biology, chemistry, English, geography, history, home economics (for girls), mathematics, physical education (for boys) and religious studies II. Religious Secondary School : Duration: Three years (ages 15 to 18) Curriculum: Arabic language and literature, English, general culture, geography, history and religious studies III. Technical Secondary School :
There are three types of technical education offered at the secondary level: vocational/technical, commercial and agricultural. Admission to a technical school requires the Shahadat Al-Kafa’at Al-Mutawassita (Intermediate School Certificate). All technical and vocational training comes under the authority of the General Organization for Technical Education. Duration: Three years (ages 15 to 18) Curriculum: Vocational/Technical: architectural drawing, auto mechanics, electricity, machine mechanics, metal mechanics, radio and television.
In addition to technical subjects, students take Arabic, chemistry, English, mathematics, physical education, physics and religious studies Commercial: Arabic, bookkeeping and accounting, commercial correspondence, economics, English, financial mathematics, general mathematics, geography, management and secretarial and religious studies. Agriculture (partial listing): agricultural economics, agronomy, animal husbandry, applied biology, applied chemistry, applied mathematics, applied physics, Arabic, English, farm management, horticulture, religious studies, marketing and plant nutrition HIGHER EDUCATION:
Higher education is provided by seven universities, several colleges for women, an institute of public administration and 17 teacher-training colleges. Six of the seven universities operate under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Higher Education. The seventh, the Islamic University of Medinah, is administered by the Council of Ministers. As previously noted, universities in Saudi Arabia offer two types of education: traditional Islamic and Western-oriented.
The Islamic University of Medinah and Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University focus on Islamic law, Quranic studies, Arabic language and social sciences. UNIVERSITY HIGHER EDUCATION: Programs and Degrees Stage I: The baccaloreus degree generally takes four years, except in pharmacy and medicine, which require four years plus clinical training, and engineering and veterinary medicine, both of which require five years.
Medicine studies last eight years, and the qualification conferred is the doctor of medicine. Stage II: In most universities, the darajat al majisteer (master’s degree) is awarded after two years of additional study beyond the first degree.
However, King Saud University offers a one-year postgraduate program at this level leading to the general diploma in education. The master’s degree is awarded in economics, business and public administration, accountancy, engineering, arts and humanities, marine sciences, science, earth sciences, meteorology, environment and arid-land agricultural science. Islamic law, Arabic and social sciences require three years of study. A thesis is required for all programs offered at this level. Stage III: The doctorate, known as the doctoorah, takes a minimum of three years following the master’s degree.
Candidates must submit a dissertation based on independent research. Only a few doctoral degrees are offered in Islamic law, Arabic and Islamic studies, social sciences, Islamic propagation (da’wa), communications and Orientalism. Women’s Colleges: The 11 women’s colleges, established between 1970 and 1982, offer four-year bachelor degrees, and are administered under the jurisdiction of the General Presidency for Girls’ Education. Some of these schools offer master’s degrees in education, science, humanities and social work, and a doctorate in education.
NON-UNIVERSITY HIGHER EDUCATION: Postsecondary technical and vocational education is available at technical colleges, higher technical institutes and higher institutions for financial and commercial sciences. Most of these institutions come under the authority of the General Organization for Technical Education and Vocational Training. Admission to any of these schools requires the General Secondary Education Certificate (sciences stream), the Secondary Vocational School Diploma or the Secondary Commercial School Diploma.
Programs are up to three years in duration and lead to certificates and diplomas. I. Technical Colleges Duration: Three years Curriculum: automatic control, auto electrical systems, auto mechanics, electrical equipment, electrical installations, industrial chemistry, industrial electronics and production engineering Leaving Certificate: Al Shahadah Al Jami’iyyiah Al Mutawassita (Technical College Certificate) II. Higher Technical Institutes Duration: One year Curriculum: not available Leaving Certificate: Shahadat Al Ma’had Al Fanni Al ‘Aali (Higher Technical Institute Diploma) III.
Higher Technical Institutes for Financial and Commercial Sciences Duration: Two years Curriculum: accounting, commercial correspondence, English, insurance, Islamic culture, marketing and advertising, office machines, purchases and stores, secretarial skills and public relations Leaving Certificate: Diplom Al Ma’had Al ‘Aali fil-Uloom Al Maliyyah (Diploma of the Higher Institute for Financial and Commercial Sciences) IV. The Institute of Public Administration is a semi-autonomous government institution responsible for training civil servants. Duration: Two- and three-year programs.
Full-time Programs: banking studies (two years), electronic data processing (two years plus one summer semester), hospital administration (two years), library science (three years), personnel studies (two years), secretarial studies (two years), store studies (two years) Leaving Certificate: Shahadat Itmaam Dawrat Ma’had Al Idaarah Al ‘Aammah (Certificate of Completion) . In conclusion the education system in Saudi Arabia is a mix of modern education theories and Islamic principles. Its free education system supported by the government with a trend toward more private schools.