On Education » Saudi Arabia

Education in Saudi Arabia

Population: 27 million people

Literacy Rate: ? %

GNP: USD ? per capita

Human Development Index: 0.?

It is estimates the literacy rate in Saudi Arabia for males to be 84.7 percent and 77.8 percent for females. Saudi Arabia´s nationwide public education system includes few public universities and more than 20,000 schools.

When Saudi Arabia formally became a nation in 1932, education was largely limited to instruction for a select few in Islamic Madrassas. Today, public education—from primary education through high school—is open and free to every citizen. Parents are not, however, required to send their children to school, and statistics from 1996 estimated that about 61 percent of children attended school.

Education in Saudi Arabia has never fully separated from its Islamic roots. All curricula must conform to the Islamic Sharia laws and the Qur´an, and traditional gender roles continue to shape educational opportunities available to females. The education of females has increased dramatically in recent years, from 25 percent of all students in 1970 to 47.5 percent in 2001. However, education is largely segregated by gender. There are only six Universities which have also women sections of the nation’s eight universities, and certain subjects are not available for women yet. Whereas men are allowed to travel to foreign countries to pursue education, women are encouraged to do so but generally must be accompanied by a spouse or male relative.

Government spending on education continues to grow in Saudi Arabia. In 2004 the government increased education spending by 28 percent over the previous year. Additionally, special emphasis is being placed on technical training in order to fill the labor gap that has long been met with foreign expertise.

Updated On: 11.12.02