Women teach young boys for the first time in Saudi public schools

02/09/19

Early childhood is the most important stage in building a child’s personality, says Suaad Al-Mansour
JEDDAH: Female teachers will educate boys in 1,460 state-run schools across the Kingdom for the first time.

“With this project, the Ministry of Education aims to improve the efficiency of the educational system and ensure that every child has access to quality education around the Kingdom,” Suaad Al-Mansour, assistant director general of education in Jeddah, told Arab News.

Al-Mansour Said The Early Childhood Schools Project Included Kindergartens For Boys And Girls Between Aged 4-5 Years-Old And The First Three Primary Grades For Students Between 6-8 Years.

She Said There Will Be No Mixed Classes In Primary Grades. “There Are Separate Classrooms, Toilets, And Other Facilities For The Young Boys And Girls.”

IN NUMBERS
1,460 – Early Education Schools

3,313 – Classrooms for 83,000 kindergarten students

3,483 – Classrooms for 81,000 early childhood education students

13.5% of young male students will be taught by women

Besides improving the quality of education, the ministry aims to increase space utilization efficiency and take full advantage of public school buildings.

According to the ministry, women will teach 13.5 percent of young boys, saving $533 million from the education budget in space alone.

Moreover, the ministry also aspires to increase children’s enrollment in public kindergarten schools versus private schools by 21 percent this year.

During the summer vacation, the ministry set up 3,313 kindergarten classes to accommodate 83,000 children.

Al-Mansour noted that early childhood is the most important stage in building a child’s personality, and said a female teacher is more approachable and less intimidating for young boys at that stage.

Arab News

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“This project will bridge the gap young boys used to face after moving from kindergarten to primary school. The classes at early childhood schools are specially designed to fit their needs at this age, and being taught by women will give them a more fruitful learning experience.”

Many private schools around the Kingdom assigned primary teaching to female teachers decades ago. The General Department of Education in Jeddah Region has held workshops with leaders in the private sector to share their experience with public institutions.

For the first time, female teachers are teaching young boys in 1,460 government schools across the Kingdom. Women will teach 13.5 percent of young male pupils, saving SR2 billion from the education budget in space alone

Arab News visited the 177th Primary School in Jeddah and met with the staff and young pupils.

Principal Rajhah Al-Jihani told Arab News that she was impressed with the community’s awareness of the importance of the Early Childhood Project.

FASTFACT

“In our school, we have a total of 6 classes for young boys, two classes for each grade. The ministry has given us 200 seats, and 180 seats are already occupied. It expresses the community’s welcoming of the project.”

Al-Jihani explained that the school organized a training course for teachers on early childhood teaching, including teaching techniques and upbringing strategies, as well as an introduction on the project and its goals.

Maryam Al-Zahrani, an early childhood teacher at the school with 22 years of experience, said that the first day is crucial, and that it was “necessary for the student to feel that the woman in front of him is more like their mother” than just a teacher.

“I nominated myself as soon as the project was announced,” she said. “I am happy with this experience.”

About 6 million students across the 13 administrative regions of the Kingdom returned to school on Sunday after almost four months of summer vacation.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Misk Academy launches 14 programs to train young Saudis

02/09/19

Over 1,900 people ready to develop skills in digital world
RIYADH: The Misk Academy, part of the Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz Foundation (Misk), has launched the third round of the Misk Udacity Program, in partnership with Udacity which aims to develop and build skills in the digital world.

Over 6,000 people have applied to the program, with 1,966 accepted to 14 online programs in programming, data, digital marketing and artificial intelligence.

In addition to the online course, students based in Riyadh and Makkah will attend a weekly session with their trainer, with seminars also being held at other locations across the country, in other areas, in order to initiate debates about the subjects and review contents and ideas raised.

The Misk Udacity Program is considered a proactive step to develop technological pioneers’ skills in the Kingdom.

HIGHLIGHTS
• The Misk Udacity Program is considered a proactive step to develop technological pioneers’ skills in the Kingdom.

• It aims to build and raise the knowledge and technical skills of Saudi job seekers, and also aims to develop their employability in the data and technology sector.

It aims to build and raise the knowledge and technical skills of Saudi job seekers, and also aims to develop their employability in the data and technology sector.

The program reflects Misk’s academic methodology which aims to present a comprehensive educational system that starts with training and ends with empowering graduates to become successful in the job market and compete at an international levels; 65 percent of graduates achieve progress in their career six months after the end of the program.

Misk is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating and providing opportunities for the Kingdom’s youth and leading them to a bright future through Vision 2030 in transforming and diversifying the Saudi economy.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Dr. Ahmad bin Mohammed Al-Zaidi, director of the General Department of Education in Makkah

Time: August 28, 2019  

Dr. Ahmad bin Mohammed Al-Zaidi

Dr. Ahmad bin Mohammed Al-Zaidi has been made director of the General Department of Education in Makkah region by the Minister of Education Dr. Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Sheikh.
Previously, Al-Zaidi was the deputy director of the Center for the Development of University Education in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Al-Zaidi holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the College of Education at Umm Al-Qura University. He also received his master’s degree from the same university in educational management.
He earned his doctorate in educational leadership and management from the College of Education at the University of Newcastle in the UK.
Al-Zaidi began his career as a teacher in 1986, working in several schools until 1994. After that, he became a supervisor of biology at the Educational Supervision Center in Jeddah. He then became the assistant director at the center between 1997 and 2000.
Al-Zaidi had been an assistant professor of educational administration at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah since 2011, before becoming the head of the department in 2012.
On Wednesday, the General Department of Education in Makkah region will launch “Future Gate,” a digital transformation initiative.
The initiative aims to promote digital learning and change the traditional setting in schools, encouraging more technology-enabled teaching and learning.
The first phase will be in the first semester of the coming academic year, featuring 80 schools, before expanding to a further 175 in the second phase.

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Cyber Saber Hackathon boosts skills of Saudi students

Time: August 07, 2019  

The hackathon, sponsored by Integrated Telecom Co., will be held in September.

Cyber Saber Hackathon will continue to support Saudi talent in achieving new heights in the cybersecurity industry through hands-on application of several cyber-attack and defense tactics, said Samer Omar, CEO of VirtuPort’s 7th MENA Information Security Conference 2019.

He added that the hackathon, sponsored by Integrated Telecom Company (ITC), will be held on Sept. 9-10.

Ghassan Itani, CEO of ITC, said: “Cybersecurity remains one of the critical elements in ensuring a successful digital economy. ITC’s sponsorship of the Cyber Saber Hackathon is one of our initiatives to invest in corporate social responsibility in line with Vision 2030, where our youth will play a critical role in the future of defending and protecting our company and the overall digital asset.”

The hackathon is characterized by its ability to provide a holistic simulation environment that will allow contestants to experience real-world hacking and breach scenarios of vital sectors including financial sectors, airports, oil and gas industry among others. The students will get to interact with it through their computers.

What distinguishes the hackathon’s model smart city is that the students will experience and witness the implications of cyberattacks and the importance of equipping themselves with the right knowledge to face the attackers.

The organizers of the hackathon said the competition has been designed to prepare the contestants for the challenges they will face in protecting the organizations they will work for.

The third edition of the hackathon is considered to be one of the most important competitions in the region. In the last two editions, more than 20 Saudi private and public universities participated.

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Saudi scholarships: An investment in the nation’s future

Time: July 22, 2019  

Saudi Scholarship students with Saudi officials during an event at the Saudi Embassy in Washington D.C. (SPA file photo)
  • Kingdom provides financial assistance and fully paid tuition to all who qualify for scholarship
  • Many of the current recipients of scholarships are third-generation beneficiaries of the policy

JEDDAH: In an age when it is regarded as both essential and expensive, Saudi Arabia’s scholarship program provides a world-class education, ensuring financial assistance and paid tuition to all those who qualify.

Beneficiaries of the program study abroad, returning with degrees and skills needed for the Kingdom’s development into a modern society.

In 1928, King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud ordered the first batch of students to be sent on scholarships to Egypt. A total of 14 went to complete their education in medicine, agriculture, engineering and law.

It was a crucial time for the young Kingdom, and the students contributed towards building the formative nation. Many became ministers, councillors, ambassadors and engineers in top positions, helping establish ministries and forming Saudi government entities.

The early Kingdom understood the importance of education as a vehicle for national development. Today, Saudi Arabia is among the leading countries measured by annual expenditure on education, with an impressive SR193 billion ($51.4 billion) allocated for Vision 2030 initiatives, as well as projects across the Kingdom, in 2019.

Success stories abound: Abdullah Tariki, the first Saudi oil minister appointed by King Saud and a co-founder of OPEC, graduated from Cairo University and later obtained his master’s degree in petroleum engineering from the University of Texas.

The first Saudi woman to obtain a government scholarship was Dr. Thoraya Obaid in 1963, who served as executive director of the United Nations Population Fund and undersecretary-general of the UN from 2000-2010. Success stories like these paved the way for other Saudi women to pursue higher education in the US, UK, Egypt and Lebanon and become prominent names in their fields, both within the Kingdom and abroad.

Many of the latest recipients of Saudi scholarships are third-generation beneficiaries, following in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents.

With the launch of the King Abdullah Scholarship Program in 2005, droves of Saudi students began to explore new avenues of education beyond just the West and Middle East. As of 2018, more than 90,000 Saudi students study abroad. Of these, 850 are at the world’s top 10 universities, and 1,600 are medical residents and fellows.

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‘Quality education’ key to boosting Saudi women’s workforce participation

Time: July 12, 2019  

The Saudi delegation hosted the symposium at the UN’s headquarters. (SPA)
  • ‘Increasing number of women in workforce is central objective of Vision 2030’

NEW YORK: Saudi Arabia, represented by its permanent mission to the UN, held a symposium on Wednesday to discuss the importance of quality education in increasing women’s participation in the labor force.

The delegation hosted the symposium at the UN’s headquarters in New York, during the UN’s High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.

Saudi Arabia’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, Dr. Khalid Manzlawiy, stressed that one of the most important factors for the empowerment of women in various fields and sectors is sustainable quality education.

FASTFACT

According to the Pew Research Center, the Kingdom’s labor force comprised of 23 percent female in 2018, an increase of 7 percent from 1998 figures.

Princess Reem bint Mansour Al-Saud, a member of the Saudi Economic and Financial Committee of the delegation, participated in a panel discussion on the Kingdom’s efforts to increase women’s participation in the workforce — describing it as one of Saudi Vision 2030’s most important objectives — and explored attitudes toward women in the workplace, and the percentage of Saudi women currently employed in the Kingdom.

Yasmine Ali, a member of Singapore’s delegation, highlighted her country’s history of implementing education policies which have enhanced women’s long-term economic and social benefits, and how it has affected the empowerment of women in the labor market there, adding that Singapore is one of the world’s most advanced countries in when it comes to education.

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Dr. Hussam bin Abdulwahab Zaman, chairman of the Saudi Public Education Evaluation Commission

Time: June 16, 2019  

Dr. Hussam bin Abdulwahab Zaman

Dr. Hussam bin Abdulwahab Zaman was appointed chairman of the Saudi Public Education Evaluation Commission on June 13.

He said the commission strives to achieve the educational objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan.

Zaman said the commission will continue its independent work and in partnership with the Education Ministry and universities across the Kingdom and other government departments to achieve national goals.

He vowed to take effective measures for the development of the education sector in the Kingdom and to devise a training evaluation system under a unified institutional framework.

He was the director of Al-Taif University between 2016 and 2019. He also served as director-general of the Regional Center for Quality and Excellence in Education.

Zaman was campus president of the Saudi Electronic University between 2013 and 2014. He held several positions at Taibah University between 2008 and 2013, including deputy vice president for development and quality, and dean of the law faculty.

He received the Prince Bandar bin Sultan Award for Scientific Excellence, and the Rashid bin Hamid Award for Culture and Science.

Zaman holds a bachelor’s degree in Islamic studies from Imam Muhammad bin Saudi University in Riyadh.

He received his master’s and Ph.D. in administration and policy studies from the University of Pittsburgh in the US.

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Saudi Arabia’s Education Ministry pumps $500m into public school projects

Time: May 22, 2019  

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SR500 million will be spent on building education “complexes.” (Photos/ Supplied)
  • 30 institutions for students in Dammam, Jeddah and Riyadh will be built

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is spending more than $500 million on building education “complexes” that will serve 90,000 students in major urban centers.

The Education Ministry, represented by the government-owned Tatweer Buildings Co., on Tuesday, signed an agreement with Al-Mabani Real Estate Co. to build 30 institutions for students in Dammam, Jeddah and Riyadh.

The agreements include a short-term plan to establish 10 complexes across the three cities with a combined intake of 30,000 students. These will cost around SR800 million ($213 million) and are expected to be completed in 2022. There is also a long-term plan to set up 20 complexes for 60,000 students costing SR600 million. The complexes will be at locations approved by local authorities.

FASTFACT

•The education complexes will serve the needs of 90,000 students in the Kingdom.

•Initially, 10 complexes will be built in Dammam, Jeddah and Riyadh at a cost of SR800 million.

•The first phase will be completed in 2022.

•In the later phase, 20 more complexes are planned at a cost of SR600 million.

Tatweer CEO Fahd Al-Hammad said the agreement represented opportunities for investors interested in building and operating high-quality education infrastructure with “state-of-the-art designs.”

Al-Mabani’s managing director, Abdulrahman Al-Ahmed, said the agreement supported the ministry’s strategy to develop the public sector schools environment through the establishment of complexes.

The agreement was signed under the patronage of Undersecretary of the Minister of Education Dr. Saad Al-Fuhaid and in the presence of Mohammed bin Eid Al-Otaibi, director general of education at the ministry.

Earlier this year, Education Minister Dr. Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Asheikh said Saudi Arabia was making efforts to improve the quality of its education sector’s infrastructure by encouraging public-private partnerships.

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Misk Schools introduce artificial intelligence into Saudi classrooms

 Time: April 18, 2019  

Misk Schools will revolutionize learning with the aid of the world’s most pioneering classroom technology, while empowering teachers to deliver an even stronger education. (Misk Schools photo)
  • Misk Schools is the first school in Saudi Arabia to adopt AI
  • It seems that we will reap the fruits of Saudi Vision earlier than expected: Saleh Al-Ghamdi

JEDDAH: Saudi students will soon be learning with the aid of artificial intelligence, as Riyadh’s leading Misk Schools become the first in the country to introduce AI into the classroom.

From this September, students at Misk Schools will learn through and be assessed by artificial intelligence, providing a personalized education for each child and giving teachers greater insights into their performance. The school will use CENTURY, an award-winning teaching and learning platform that uses AI to adapt learning to each student’s individual strengths, weaknesses, behaviors and habits.

Founded by Prince Mohammad Bin Salman’s Misk Foundation, Misk Schools is a state-of-the-art day school in Riyadh offering a new paradigm in education based on the best practices of international and progressive education.

Misk Schools says that the move will ensure that students are learning with the aid of the world’s most pioneering classroom technology, while empowering teachers to deliver an even stronger education.

Artificial intelligence — where machines are programmed to perform tasks traditionally associated with humans — is transforming education across the world. It is used to tailor learning to each student, while freeing teachers’ time to teach by automating admin tasks such as marking and planning. It also provides them with extensive data on each child’s performance, allowing for more effective targeted interventions to support or stretch students.

While Misk Schools is the first school in Saudi Arabia to adopt AI, the Middle East is leading the way internationally in using AI and technology to improve education.

Director General of Misk Schools Peter Hamilton said that they were excited to be partnering with CENTURY as its breaks new ground in ways to embed technology to transform the learning experience for students. “We seek to both support and challenge our learners, and by partnering with CENTURY we will empower our students to take ownership of their learning. Moreover, CENTURY will allow our teachers to have better insight into the daily work of each student, and to better plan future work in the classroom.” Hamilton said.

Founder and CEO of CENTURY Tech Priya Lakhani said: “AI is transforming schools across the world by providing a more personalized education to students, while simultaneously empowering teachers with precise data so that they can perform even better as educators.

“AI is the only way we can move from the failed, outdated ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to ‘one-size-fits-one.’ It allows each student to learn at their own pace, with lessons and tests tailored to maximize their strengths and rapidly address their weaknesses,” she said.

“I am delighted to welcome Misk Schools to the CENTURY family. From children in leading independent schools to Syrian refugees in the Middle East, CENTURY is being used across the world to improve the lives of children and young adults from all backgrounds.”

Saleh Al-Ghamdi, an English language teacher, told Arab News that introducing AI into classrooms was a major leap forward in the Saudi education system.

“It seems that we will earlier than expected reap the fruits of the promising Saudi Vision before 2030 falls. It is an important step that will entirely change education in Saudi Arabia. I see the step as a road map to a bright education future,” Al-Ghamdi said.

He added that Saudi Arabia is looking forward to putting its citizens on the path toward first-world countries. “Introducing AI in our schools is one of the ways that can significantly help in achieving our Vision 2030 goals. It is true that this process may require big efforts, but with determination nothing is impossible,” Al-Ghamdi said.

Introducing AI in schools would greatly help students to feel successful and educators more productive. “It will also assist in promoting active learning and deeper engagement. What is more, it will make educators’ jobs more focused and much easier,” he said.

Al-Ghamdi said that some teachers might fear that the introduction of AI in education would threaten their jobs, but “the truth is that this revolution in education will hopefully make robots and computer programs and technology, in general, a supporting element to their indispensable profession,” he said.

Research involving more than 11,000 students using CENTURY showed that the platform improves understanding of a topic by an average of 30 percent. It also frees teachers from admin tasks such as marking and planning — saving an average of six hours a week and allowing them to focus on teaching itself.

Last month CENTURY Tech agreed a landmark agreement with the Belgium government. As a leading teaching and learning platform that uses artificial intelligence in its design, CENTURY Tech is rapidly spreading across the world, from English independent schools to schools in Lebanon educating large numbers of Syrian refugees.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi minister talks of new education strategy to promote excellence

Time: April 12, 2019  

Saudi Education Ministry signs a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the UAE Ministry of Education to cooperate on the development of digital education systems in the two Gulf states. ( Saudi Education Ministry via Twitter)
  • 372 universities from 33 countries participate in Riyadh exhibition & conference

RIYADH: The Saudi minister of education, Dr. Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Asheikh, opened the 8th session of the International Exhibition and Conference on Higher Education (IECHE 2019) in Riyadh on Wednesday.

The conference, titled “Transforming Saudi Universities in an Era of Change,” will host representatives of 372 universities from 33 countries, and last four days.

Al-Asheikh said: “This conference will focus on important topics central to our changing world. Therefore, the title of this conference was chosen to mark a new direction, through which we can see the future and its prospects, and adapt.

“The aims of this conference align clearly with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 program, which has posed challenges to our universities to strive to achieve positions of global leadership,” he added, stating that the ambition of the program was to have at least five universities become part of the top 200 global education institutions by 2030.

The minister touched upon the aspirations of young Saudis, pointing to their digital literacy in everyday life, and indicating that the changes in higher education would have to revolve around a more technologically progressive curriculum.

He explained that the needs of the labor market would require a different approach from the traditional university educations of old, and that universities would need to adapt their degrees in order to remain relevant and to provide the required skills needed in rapidly changing industries. He called on all Saudi universities to reconsider their programs and strategies in order to keep pace with the changes, both those in the local economy and those of the neighboring Gulf states, and in the wider global economy.

Al-Asheikh also confirmed that a new university system would be announced soon, in an effort to reinvigorate and refocus the leadership at the top of Saudi higher education. The new system, he added, would look at the allocation of funding for various departments and projects, and how it might be redirected to help transform Saudi universities to become an integral part of the global educational elite.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Education also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Education of the UAE on the sidelines of the conference, to cooperate on the development of digital education systems in the two Gulf states. Several Saudi universities also signed twinning agreements with their Emirati counterparts.

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