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Education in Saudi Arabia

image of Education in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has embarked upon an unprecedented reform agenda known as Vision 2030, which aims to create a dynamic, diverse and sustainable economy. To meet the demands of a 21st century, knowledge-based labour market, Saudi Arabia must develop a highly-skilled population, which puts education at the centre of Vision 2030.

Saudi Arabia has made tremendous progress in expanding access to education and has achieved universal enrolment rates at primary and lower secondary levels. Nevertheless, most young Saudi Arabians leave school without having mastered the basic competences needed for success in future academic and professional endeavours. There are also widening disparities between students in terms of their access to high quality education and their subsequent learning outcomes.

This review, developed in co-operation with the Ministry of Education of Saudi Arabia, analyses the strengths and challenges of the country's education system and makes recommendations to help improve student learning. It will be of interest to policy makers in Saudi Arabia and international audiences who wish to learn about the country's ambitious reform efforts.

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Improving school quality through better governance, leadership and support

This chapter looks at how Saudi Arabia manages its schools and supports them to improve. Historically, schools in Saudi Arabia have been overseen and supported by a large body of supervisors who use centrally produced rating tools to evaluate the effectiveness of schools. These procedures tend to focus on school compliance with regulations and do not always capture the extent to which schools help students learn. Supervisors themselves, who are often responsible for more schools than they can handle, are not always well positioned to help schools improve. These circumstances contribute to an environment in which the neediest schools are neither identified accurately nor supported adequately, which affects student learning across the country. To address these issues, Saudi Arabia is developing a modern and comprehensive school evaluation framework that relies on expert, external inspectors to evaluate schools. This chapter suggests that this framework become the country’s reference point for high-quality schooling and that supervisors adopt (and be trained in) a purely supportive role. While the school evaluation framework and supervisors will provide important guidance about school improvement, the most important actors in leading school improvement in Saudi Arabia are school leaders. Currently, however, school leaders are seen as administrators, not instructional leaders. They will need to be supported to become agents of change in order for Saudi Arabia to achieve its school reform goals.

English

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