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Education in Saudi Arabia When Saudi Arabia formally became a nation in 1932, education was largely limited to instruction

for a select few in Islamic schools. Education was available mostly to the children of wealthy families living in the major cities (Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia). Over the years, education has become more available to everyone. Today, public education, from primary education through college, is open to every Saudi citizen. In the centuries after the birth of Islam (in 632), Muslim states established schools, universities, and libraries that were unique to the rest of the world. At a time when Europe was stuck in the Dark Ages, the Islamic world became a center for learning, making major contributions in the areas of astronomy, physics, art, philosophy, and medicine (Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia). Formal education began in Saudi Arabia in the 1930s. By 1945, the king and founder of Saudi Arabia, King Abdulaziz bin Abdelrahman Al-Saud, had begun an extensive program to establish schools in the kingdom. By 1951, the country had 226 schools with 29,887 students (Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia). The first university of Saudi Arabia was founded in 1957 and the first government school for girls was built in 1964. By the end of the 1900s, girls schools had been established in every part of the kingdom. Today, female students make up over half of the more than six million students currently enrolled in Saudi schools and universities. The official education ladder of Saudi Arabia is not drastically different from the rest of the world. Saudi Arabian children ages 3-5 years go to kindergarten, but kindergarten is not a prerequisite for enrollment of the first grade. Primary education in Saudi Arabia lasts six years

and children at the age of 6 enter the first grade of primary education. In Grade 6 of primary school, students must pass an examination and obtain the Elementary Education Certificate in order to move on to intermediate education, which lasts three years. Secondary education in Saudi Arabia also lasts three years and is the final stage of education. After secondary education has been completed, individuals have the option to move on to higher education in universities. The study of Islam is at the core of the Saudi Arabian education system. Education is a requirement for every Muslim, both male and female. The Holy Quran repeatedly emphasized the importance of learning. The study of Islam dominates the Saudi educational system and part of the Saudi curriculum is to memorize large parts of the Quran. The Saudi Arabian education system has been subject to much criticism because of its strong Islam based curriculum. It is said that Saudi youth generally lack the education and technical skills the private sector needs because religion has such a strong hold on what is taught in Saudi schools (Wikipedia). The consequence of the religious approach to education is considered by many, including perhaps the Saudi government itself, to have encouraged Islamist terrorism. The topic of the education system in Saudi Arabia has always been a touchy matter because of its Islamic principles. Education has really grown in Saudi Arabia in the past century and today, Saudi Arabias education system includes 25 public and 27 private universities, which more planned; some 30,000 schools; and a large number of colleges and other institutions (Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia). The Saudi educational system provides quality

instruction in diverse fields of arts and sciences, all based on Islam principles.

Works Cited Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia (n.d.). Education. Retrieved from http://www.saudiembassy.net/about/country-information/education/. Wikipedia (March 19, 2014). Education in Saudi Arabia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_Saudi_Arabia

Picture citations http://www.gallup.com/poll/6046/education-levels-nine-predominantly-islamic-countries.aspx https://feminist.org/blog/index.php/2012/12/06/textbooks-in-saudi-arabia-feature-photographsof-women/