Our Schools : Between The English Language and the Arabian Identity
- October 3, 2017
- Posted by: nahda-academy
- Category: Uncategorized
Schools in Saudi Arabia have different approaches when it comes to balancing the Arabic and English languages and our religious and cultural identity. Schools follow a diverse range of curriculums and activities, some through the medium of the Saudi Arabian, Arabic language curriculum and others through an international curriculum with a heavy bias to the English language. In this article we will look at these different options within Saudi Arabian schools and the merits and challenges of each.
The first type of schools in Saudi Arabia are government schools. These schools are funded by the government and are free for all Saudi nationals to attend. The majority of schools in Saudi Arabia are of this type. They follow the government curriculum which is issued by the Saudi Ministry of Education and focuses heavily on the Arabic language, whilst strongly emphasising Islamic studies. The English language is only taught as a stand alone subject from Grade 4. The strong points of this curriculum are that all Saudi children can have free access, all are entitled to a place in one of the government schools and the content is fully accepted in Saudi Arabian society. This type of education suits students who do not intend to travel for study or work outside of the Kingdom or work in multinational companies which rely strongly on English language proficiency.
The second type of schools in Saudi Arabia are the National (private) schools. These schools are not free of charge and the only subsidy from the government is the textbooks provided by the Ministry of Education at no charge. Fees for these schools vary depending on the facilities and curricula on offer. These schools use the Saudi Ministry of Education curriculum for Arabic, Science, Maths and English. They have the right to offer additional subjects in the English language – such as Science and Maths. This will allow these schools to offer a better foundation in the English language. However, this does not allow the students to use English across and throughout the curriculum – the offering is a strong one in Arabic and Islamic, with an intermediate knowledge of the English language. The level of English is such that those enrolling in English language universities may face difficulties in accessing the course and may have to invest in an intensive English language immersion course prior to starting their university studies.
The third option for parent choice are the International schools which are independent of the Saudi Ministry of Education curriculum. They focus heavily on the English (or other international) language. Most subjects are studied in English with Arabic and Islamic seen as stand alone subjects. All international schools are fee paying with no financial support form the Saudi Ministry of Education. These schools are ideal for international students who are living temporarily in the Kingdom. For Saudi nationals the disadvantage is the compromise on Arabic language, Islamic studies and their identity as Saudi nationals.
The fourth and final type of school is the rarest in the Kingdom. The curriculum in these schools is based on international standards and curricula but combines this with a balance with the Arabic and English languages and Islamic studies. These schools develop their own blend of advanced teaching methods – such as Montessori – and modern resources – for example Singapore Maths – to deliver a well balanced, activity based experience for their students to enable them to develop their skills in both languages and their own Saudi cultural and spiritual identity. They develop the skills of the student rather than just their knowledge. Developing the individual to be life ready as a Saudi and a global citizen is at the core of their work.
What are your views on these different types of schools?
Which is the most important for our youth and future generations?