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Places of education in the early era;

In Saudi Arabia there were a number of learning places in the early times but a few of the places were identified before the Islam state. These few main learning places in the early era of the Peninsula are;

Kuttab;

This learning place was open to all people in the society regardless of their societal status. There was the separation and grouping of people according to age. The aged people were given there own Kuttab. Education here is generally free. The teacher will not ask for anything but some parents may decide to give something such as money, food or clothing. Before the coming of Islam there were few Kuttabs in few places where kids could memorize the Quran apart from learning basic reading, writing, arithmetic and morals,(Ho,2011).

Halqah (Study circle);

According to earlier information from Britannica Encyclopedia each mosques used to have a number of study circles. The teacher used to be seated on a dais while the pupils gather themselves in a semicircle in front of him and listening to him. Circles in the mosque had variety in approach, course content, size, and teaching quality. The teacher used the method of instruction that emphasized on lectures and rote memorization. Teachers were respected by the learners as were seen as the final people in education as their lectures were meticulously recorded in notebooks by the learners. Sometimes students could from one place to another in search for good teachers more especially those teaching the Hadith (sayings of Prophet Mohammed). There you could find a large number of them that additional teacher was required.

Palaces schools;

These are Special classes for special wealthy classes of people who wanted special and qualitative education for their children. These palace schools used to choose good lectures to teach their children in a more advanced reading, writing and good morals in the society, (Ho, 2011).

Badiah (Rural or Bedouins places and life);

In these places people were allowed to learn the strong basis of Arabic language this is because people used to meet in the cities with different languages and culture. Therefore, there was the need to a uniform Arabic language for all, (Oberon, 2001).

Bookstores;

This was a place where people used to sell and buy books, but it was also a place for discussions and meetings between scholars and educators in the Peninsula

Scholars’ houses;

This was a house open to all student scholars who wanted to continue with this scholarship for long time. It also refers to the special classes that were held for gifted and special cases students besides the public classes organized in Halqah.

Mosques (Masjed in Arabic);

The mosques was also used as the court, conferences,  learning centers, meeting points  and early Kuttabs and Halqah used for teaching,  up to then  there are still a  number of Halqah in Saudi’s mosques,(Ho,2011).  

Thus one can say that these places were helpful in the past in satisfying the people’s educational needs. However these places each had its limitations that could not allow efficient services.

Places of education before the establishment of Saudi Arabia;

Ottoman Empire: ending 1916;

This was a great empire which involved each part of the country including the Arabian Peninsula. It later on became a problem in the whole area. The empire had put more emphasis on the Islamic region than the western region because of the importance that was associated with Mecca and Maddinah in Islamic world. The empire began schools in the wheaten regions which later became grounds for their supporters. They also changed the school language from Arabic to Turkish. The few people accepted and continued learning in these schools as majority turned them down, (Ho, 2011).

Hashemy era: 1916 – 1924;

This is when Shareef Hussein Bin Ali led Arab revolution against Turk and Ottoman Empire which had humiliated the people. Then he led the people into dropping any kind of Turkish influences in their lifestyle especially in education. He facilitated for the closure of all Turkish schools as he involved the scholars in establishing new educational systems. In a period of one year there was a great and changed system that started from preparing school, then advance elementary school and finally high secondary school. This made People find there way to education. He made the people aware of the importance of education thereby motivating them.

Early Saudi;

By 1926 the Arabian Peninsula was still divided into several portions. King Abdul-Aziz Ibn Saud in 1926 became the king of the Hejaz and Sultan Nejd and Dependencies While On September 18, 1932, Ibn Saud was proclaimed king of Saudi Arabia. It marked the final unification of the divide country into empires. 

Formal and organized education systems in Saudi Arabia did not exist until 1948. Before then there existed a traditional educational system called ‘Kuttab’ in the Arabian Peninsula. During this period, these schools were only meant for boy-child only.  The girl-child was taught by the mothers at home and boys were taught by men in Kuttab schools. The Kuttab schools were situated in the mosque or in the homes of teachers. These teachers used to be the Imam. 

When the kingdom of Saudi Arabia was established, public education in the Arabian Peninsula was limited to only elementary schools. The traditional curriculum of this education was reduced to rote memorization of the Quran as well as to reading and writing Arabic. In 1925, Kuttab schools were replaced by the formal schools controlled by the government. But this time round literacy of the people had spread almost all over the Arabian Peninsula, (Ho, 2011)

The Educational System in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia;

During the era of Hashemy, King Abdulaziz started the first formalized education in 1925 at a place called the Directorate of Education. This was first placed within the Ministry of the Interior. This was due to the fact that there was limited educationist to start and run the department on its own. The Egyptians were called in for assistance in teaching and financing the curriculum. On the other hand the Egyptian educational model was following the footsteps of the English educational model thus it indirectly introduced it to the Saudi Educational model.

 Due to the increased demand for education new educational regulations were introduced by the General Directorate of Education. The Directorate was now allowed to control the Saudi educational affairs for the first time.

 As a result of all this development, in 1925 the first government school in Saudi Arabia was started. Several of these schools were established in 1936 which became full-fledged elementally schools three years later.  The entire school population at this time was only 2319 pupils in the whole country. But the demand for education grew further as the country advanced to the new era. The number of elementary schools grew up to 182 in 1949, carrying a total number of 21,409 pupils, (Ho, 2011).

In 1963 the supreme committee for education was established to supervise educational activities in the country. The spending on the education sector has been tripling from 1970 to 2000.in 2004 the public spending on education was 6.8 per cent of the GDP

The Structure and Curriculum of Public Education;

Public education in Saudi consists of three levels of education. This levels are; elementally, intermediate and secondary level. The school year consists of two semesters which have fifteen weeks each. Length of the lesson in a class is forty five minutes, (Bibme, 2007).

Pre-primary education;

Children aged between 3-5 years can join Kindergarten. Kindergarten is not considered as the pre-requisite for joining intermediary level and it’s not part of the education ladder in Saudi. However some nurseries have been developed by the government plan to alleviate this level of education. According to information from the government sources, up to around 100,714 children were schooling in pre-primary school as per the 2007 records.

Elementary education;

This level consists of six grades; students begins going to school at the age of six years.  The curriculum here focuses on the Islamic education, Arabic language, mathematics, history, geography and sciences. Instead of physical education, the girls take feminine education, (Warlick, 2010).  

 

Subjects

Hours Per Week

First Grade

Second Grade

Third Grade

Fourth Grade

Fifth Grade

Sixth Grade

Islamic Studies

9

9

9

9

9

9

Arabic Studies

12

9

9

9

8

8

Social Studies

0

0

0

2

2

2

Science

1

2

2

2

3

3

Mathematics

2

4

4

5

5

5

Art Education

2

2

2

1

1

1

Physical Education

2

2

2

2

2

2

Total Hours

28

28

28

31

31

31

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table of the elementary school curriculum

Intermediate education;

To enter the intermediate education one has to pass the sixth grade in the elementary education the ages of entry is between 12-15 years. Here students add more general education courses besides Islamic and Arabic languages,(Warlick,2010). This level goes for three years. Upon passing of the examination the student is made to select among the following three options to advance in; (1) regular secondary school, (2) vocational education, (3) Quran schools. The following is the table detailing the curriculum in this level of education;

 

Subjects

Hours Per Week

First Grade

Second Grade

Third Grade

Islamic Studies

8

8

8

Arabic Studies

6

6

6

English

4

4

4

Science

4

4

4

Mathematics

4

4

4

Art Education

2

2

2

Physical Education

1

1

1

History

2

2

2

Geography

2

2

2

Total Hours (Boys)

33

33

33

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Secondary Education;

The first secondary education was established in 1926. This came as a result of the development of the foreign preparatory school in 1937.  The main aim of this education was to prepare the students for higher education in Egypt universities. Thus most of the teachers were hired from Egypt together with their curriculum structure. It takes a maximum of three years. Due to economic development in the oil, commercial and industrial sectors, secondary education expanded between1950s and 1960s, (Oberon, 2001).

Higher Education

Higher education in Saudi lasts for fours in humanities and social science fields while in medicine, engineering and pharmacy takes five to six years. Upon completion and passing of secondary education, one joins university education. The first university was developed in 1957 and was called King Saud University. It was the first of its own in the Arab states. Currently there are twenty four public universities and many private colleges and universities in Saudi. This university also consists of colleges and departments that offer diplomas, bachelor, master and PhD degrees in various specializations and community services as well. Some offers distance learning programmes, (Oberon, 2001).

The demand for higher education has been increasing from one year to another. In the year 2005, King Abdullah introduced a government scholarship program to sponsor Saudi students to study in western foreign universities. They mostly studied in United States, Canada, France, and German among others.

Conclusion

The development of the Saudi education has been a long process. The process has led to the renovation of the traditional education systems to the modern efficient education systems. The study of this development in education began from when the country had not been formed into an independent state and through this we are made to see the way the people were organized into informal learning systems. Due to devotion and willingness of the people of Saudi to learn more and know more, they together with their government developed their system of education that suits their religious, commercial and industrial needs. They borrowed some of its curriculum and teachers from Egypt in order to facilitate positive educational growth. Today, the country being an Islamic state has seen the importance of the Western education. Thus it has incorporated within its education programs resources to send their learners into foreign western universities to learn new technologies. This clearly indicates the characteristics of a developing nation.

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