Saudi Arabia education system Essay

This paper is meant to give insight into how the education system in Saudi Arabia strives to create more interest into the school principal’s job. The essay explains the conditions, factors and reasons that attract and allow the growth of those teachers willing to take up the principal’s job as promoted by the education system in Saudi Arabia. It is important to have an understanding of the system of education in Saudi Arabia. Education in Saudi Arabia is in most cases streamlined along gender that is boys and girls and this has yielded three categories of systems of education provided .

These different systems offered are administered differently and separately according to Robert Sedgwick. The three systems provided consist of the general education which are purely offered to boys, education for girls and traditional Islamic education which is for boys (Sedgwick, 2001). Sedgwick further states that ministry of education is the body which is charged with the responsibility providing general education for boys while the general presidency is concerned with girl child education.

http://www. wes. org/eWENR/01Nov/Practical. htm). However, he goes a head to clarify that both sexes follow the same curriculum and take the same annual examinations in both formal and summative evaluation. The Islamic education, which is for boys, is purposely designed to train boys to become members of the clergy known as Ulema according to Sedgwick (2001) and Gibreel (2006). (http://www. wes. org/eWENR/01Nov/Practical. htm). ) The religious secondary school and other public institutions focus majorly on Islamic and Arabic studies.

The religious curriculum also includes the general academic secondary school curriculum, however a lot of emphasis on religion (Sedgwick, 2001). There has been borrowing of certain elements of the traditional Islamic system of education into the modern the so called western oriented schools that practice the new curriculum (Gibreel, 2001). For one to become a qualified teacher in Saudi Arabia he or she has to undergo several stages and tests . This begins with the achieving of primary education that lasts for six years.

The primary curriculum offers Arabic, art education, Geography, History, home economics which are for girls (Sedgwick, 2001). According to Sedgwick tough subjects like mathematics, physical education, Islamic studies and sciences are left for boys. At the end of this course, Sedgwick says a student is awarded Shabiadat Al Madaaris Al Ibtidaa yyah which means the General Elementary School Certificate. On completion of a primary school, a student is allowed to join intermediate school which lasts for three years for the ages twelve to fifteen years. (http://www. wes. org/eWENR/01Nov/Practical. htm).

The general secondary education lasts for three years and for ages twelve to fifteen years. The subjects offered are quite different from the primary one (Sedgwick, 2001). There are also compulsory subjects which are suppose to be shared by those joining the system whether a girl or a boy. This uniqueness is there to enable them prepare adequately on how to handle both the sexes when they opt to become a teacher in future. The final two years are divided into scientific and literal streams whereby those students scoring 60 percent in all first year units according to Robert Sedgwick (2001) may choose between the two streams.

He states that those who successfully pass the general secondary examination (tawjihi) are awarded a learning certificate referred to as Shahadat Al – Marhalt Al – Thnawiyyat that is General Secondary Education Certificate. However some students can also attend religious secondary education where they are awarded Religious Institute Secondary Education Certificate while others can pursue technical education in which they are awarded Secondary Vocational School Diploma (Sedgwick, 2001 http://www. wes. org/eWENR/01Nov/Practical. htm).

Teacher training. Specialization in the teaching profession starts with successful qualification at general secondary school. Primary school teachers undertake a bachelor’s degree in primary education in one of the seventeen teacher training colleges (Sedgwick, 2001). Training of the secondary school teachers is carried in faculties of King Abdial Aziz and King Sand universities. In addition to this, secondary school teachers also undertake their training in the faculty of social sciences at Imam Mohamed Bin Saudi Islamic University.

The training of a secondary school teacher takes duration of four years of study and they graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in education (http://www. wes. org/eWENR/01Nov/Practical. htm). Some of the courses offered at both primary teacher training college and secondary school teacher training colleges and universities offer administrative skills to teacher trainees. This offers and provides initial training and teachers preparing for future responsibilities as school principals. The skills and training provided include management style, financial management as well as how to handle teachers and learners in a learning environment. Sedgwick, 2001 and Susan Flario, 2001).

According to UNESCO (1996), the school principal is the administrator of the school. He or she is in charge of teaching staff, supporting staff in the school as well as the students. Some of the issues tackled by the principal include staff recruitment, staff supervision and general welfare of the students and their parents. These principals manage routine activities and provide instructional leadership at the institutions involved. They also help in making policies, procedures and educational aims and standards. Marshal Cavendish, 2006). . In order to prepare teachers for their role as future principals, there should be system put in place to ensure that the aspiring principals have the right experience needed to run a school.

The existing principal should organize forums and workshops to interact with their teachers. Such forums give the teachers insight into what is happening in the principal’s office and prepare them for any possible takeover (UNESCO, 1996). The teacher also learns to appreciate and tackle emerging issues and challenges in the day to day running of the school .

This is because religious issues should not be ignored at any cost (Gibreel, 1996). Some of the challenges facing the principal as a decision makers include new rules and regulations proposed by the ministry of education that are not backed up with necessary financial support. This situation requires the school principal to come up with alternative source of fund or squeeze the new policy within the existing budget. Such crisis requires the ministry of education to equip aspiring and ambitious principles with financial measurement skills (Susan and Detar, 2001). This is done through seminars and in-service training.

Susan and Detar also argue that the Saudi Arabia ministry of education has been preparing teachers for the management responsibility by organizing refresher courses and in service training. This is geared to prepare them to take up positions of school principals which have been occupied by expatriates. For effective transition or take over, a teacher is first promoted to position of an assistant principal or deputy principal before taking offer as the principal of the school. This is quite obvious in many countries because vertical mobility in any institution has to go step by step.

Therefore a mere teacher cannot rise to the position of a principal without becoming the assistant principal. This arrangement allows teacher to work hand in hand with the principal as a way of gaining experience expected of him (Mohammed, 1992). The assistant principal is prepared to become a principal by being asked to perform some administrative roles that are done by the principal he or she is working under. Before actual promotion, the assistant principal is accessed and scrutinized to determine the skills and experience has in order to assume the principal’s office (Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission to the United States, 1991).

Only those teachers who have taught for some times and served in the administrative position are promoted to be the principal of the school. This strategy however blocks any young, energetic and ambitious teachers with liberal mind to participate in the administration of schools (Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission, 1991). This may some times discourage and demoralize young teachers from joining the teaching profession in fear of being blocked out since the whole process may take long and at the same time they might want to rise very first.

In addition, those appointed are old and simply waiting for their retirement. They lack the innovativeness and creativity needed to run a performing school (Carmen and Ruth, 2004). Working together between the principal to be and the existing principal helps the new principal to inherit the good partnership that existed between the parents and the old principal. This is very important as a broken relationship between parents and the principal can real frustrate the teacher’s efforts in achieving the school’s objective.

Islamic education in Saudi Arabia offers opportunities for teachers aspiring principals to undertake further studies at different colleges of education that exist in Saudi Arabia (Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission to the United States, 1991). This is because Islamic education is a comprehensive system that encourages the entire development of the spirit, interest and physical body of an individual (Sedgwick, 2001).. The education system accommodates changes in social systems which are not centrally to the Islamic principals and values (Elearnor, 2005 and UNESCO, 1996).

The supervision of teachers who qualify to be principals is done by the educational districts of Saudi Arabia which are directed by the ministry of education. The district superintendent identifies and evaluates the teachers who undergo training to acquire management skills needed to run the schools. (Marshal Cavendish, 2006) According to Carmen and Ruth (2004. The Saudi Arabia system of education tends to discriminate girl child and female teachers from having same opportunities given to their male teachers for the position of headship or becoming principal of a school.

Instead of rising to higher level female teachers are left to memorize the Quran and tend to make them feel more inferior in the society to their male counterparts (Gibreel, 2001). This is due to Islamic fundamentalism and extremism, a phenomenon which is propagated through the education system (Mohammed, 1992 and Gibgreel, 2001). The administration of school as principal requires the teachers to have deep understanding and knowledge of the curriculum even though the teachers are not involved in the curriculum development (Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission to the United States, 1991).

The teachers are treated and viewed as passive agents in the whole process of curriculum planning activities. This therefore actually denies the student and their teachers’ opportunity to make their education meaningful (Marshal Cavendish, 2006). As a remedy to this, their should be effective participation by students and teachers especially, prospective school principals. This ensures that the real issues and current conditions in schools are considered in curriculum planning and implementation by the general directorate of education (Mohammed, 1992).

In an attempt to ensure that those who aspired to become school principals have adequate training and experience, the Saudi ministry of education offer retraining to existing teachers and their teacher colleges to ensure teachers who graduated from the old institutions have the skills required and demanded by the current curriculum(Sedgwick,2001). The education college in King Saudi University offers programs to prepare teachers professionally taking up their administrative roles in schools (Sedgwick, 2001).

Some of these courses include: education evaluation, foundation of education and research, school, educational technology, curriculum and instruction, teaching of methods as well as using the computer in teaching the programs allow young ambitious teachers to acquire knowledge and skills about the principles of learning, educational processes and curriculum (http://www. wes. org/eWENR/01Nov/Practical. htm). The existing principal helps to prepare and mentor teachers by ensuring that teachers submit their preparation book to the principal once he/she is asked to do so.

This is presented together with the office book as a way of accessing the teacher’s competence and a level of responsibility (Abd-Elwahab, 1970). The role of the principal however lacks a very clear guidance and hence is seen as the monitoring strategy meant for victimization (Saudi Arabia Cultural Mission to the United States, 1991). Conclusion For a long time the government of Saudi Arabia suffered a deficit in their schools due to lack of their own teachers to run Saudi Arabia schools.

This forced the kingdom of Saudi Arabia to import expatriates including school principals help run the school in Saudi Arabia (Elearnor, 2005). The principal being the school administrators needs skills and experience to handle teachers, develop educational policies which are effective as well as ensuring the well being of both boy and girl child. Instead of waiting for the principal to come to school through job application, the education system needs to adopt systematic approach to leadership development known as succession planning to identify and support growth of future principals already in the school.

The government needs to establish principal’s academy in which the aspiring and ambitious teachers can be helped to develop step by step into realizing their ambition. The principal academy will play a significant role in recruiting, building, development and strengthening principal leadership skills in the aspiring principal. The teacher is developed into an expertise that provides a link between policy student achievement and play a key role in administration of the school (UNESCO, 1996).

Principal teachers’ workshops are provided in the country to help develop leadership skills through networking between these two terms. Such forums are carried to shed light on the roles carried by the principals and how the expectorations of teachers, parents and students can be handled (UNESCO, 1996). In addition to this, the principal developed programs have been put in place for Saudi Arabian teachers. This has helped the teachers to develop leadership and management skills in order to become good principals in future.

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