2012 Arab News
2012-03-13 Many Saudis send children to international schools
Published: Mar 13, 2012 00:24 Updated: Mar 13, 2012 00:24

There is an increasing trend among Saudis to send their children to international schools especially to learn English and excel in education, said a delegate attending a conference of the owners of international and private schools in the Kingdom in Jeddah yesterday.

Parents want to send their children abroad for higher education. So they seek for their children to have a strong educational basis, M.K. Al-Atawi, owner of Tabuk International School, told Arab News. The trend has gathered momentum after the Higher Education Ministry started sending thousands of students abroad under the King Abdullah Foreign Scholarship Program. Saudi parents are now thinking in advance and want to enroll their children in international schools to benefit from the scholarship program, Al-Atawi pointed out.

He said investors in the sector face a lot of complicated problems with regard to the appointment of foreign women teachers. We cannot recruit a woman teacher without her mehram. Now we are thinking of solving this problem by employing qualified wives of expatriate workers in the Kingdom, he said. Al-Atawi said international schools are not receiving any financial assistance from public lending organizations and hoped the government would review the policy. Most international schools are run in rented buildings as they dont have enough funds, he said.

He said owners are also facing difficult conditions set by municipalities. Accreditation is another problem facing international schools and the ministry has agreed to solve it by setting up a special committee. Al-Atawis wife Maha Mukhaimer is attending the conference as director of the Tabuk school. Haya bint Abdul Aziz Al-Awad, deputy minister for girls education, opened the conference by saying the Education Ministry would encourage investors in the private and international education sector as part of its efforts to improve the quality of education. She added as much as 90 percent of students in some international schools are Saudi.
Ziyad bin Ahmed Al-Rahmah, member of the national committee for international schools at the Council of Saudi Chambers, commended the progress achieved by the international school sector in the country. He said the ministrys regulations should meet the specific needs of international schools and their development. These schools are providing a good service to Saudis as well as expatriates.

He expected greater cooperation between the ministry and investors and urged authorities to solve the problems related to the recruitment of foreign teachers. Internationally there are problems in the recruitment of professionals because of the opportunities in their own countries, he pointed out. Sometimes we face problem in getting visas, especially when we recruit women teachers, Al-Rahmah added.

Al-Rahmah, who represented Victory International Academy in Dammam, noted a rapid progress in Saudis investment in the sector. Many Saudis have now entered the business to benefit from the international schools sector and help meet growing demand, he said. He hoped the conference would have a positive impact in promoting international schools and make them excel in education, achieving world-class standards.

Dhaifallah Saad Al-Rasheedi, a senior education official from Tabuk, said the conference would deal with subjects related to the development of education, safety and security. Brig. Abdullah Jedawi, director of Civil Defense in Jeddah, spoke about school safety requirements.

2012 Arab News
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